Stunning collection of old Offaly images released

A busy day at the Pig Fair in Edenderry, a street scene, Tullamore, a group picnic at Clonmacnoise and a military camp in Birr are just some of the photographs of Offaly digitised and freely available online from the National Library of Ireland (NLI).

ABOVE: A military camp with serried lines of bell tents inside/outside a military base in Birr, c. 1865-1908. Reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.

As part of a new initiative entitled ‘Around the Island’, the Library is inviting Offaly people, and everyone with an interest in the county, to explore these images and others from home. ‘Around the Island’ encourages people across the island of Ireland to connect and reconnect with their counties and their history by accessing local photographs that are readily available through the Library’s rich and varied online collections.

WATCH the special promotional video here:

In 2007, the National Library initiated a major project to digitise its collections of glass plate negatives. Since then, more than 60,000 images of Ireland and Irish life have been made available online. With photographs drawn from a range of historic collections, the online catalogue offers viewers unique insights into life across the island of Ireland from the middle of the 19th century all the way up to the late 20th century. The catalogue can be accessed via, and visitors can search the collections according to a number of criteria, including year and region.

Commenting on the initiative, Director of the NLI, Dr Sandra Collins said: “As Ireland’s memory-keeper, the National Library collects, preserves and shares the record of life in Ireland. This includes photographs of everyday local life just as much as major moments in our national history. Together, these images give a varied picture of Irish life through the last 170 years. Through ‘Around the Island’, we hope people will engage with their local history using the Library’s online catalogue, and perhaps see their locality and its history in a new light.

“I hope that visitors to our online collections will find enjoyment in browsing local imagery from the past, while also learning something new about their county. I encourage Offaly people, and everyone with an interest in the county, to spread the word about the Library’s online collections among family and friends – wherever they are – and to visit the catalogue.”

Visitors to the catalogue are encouraged to share any interesting findings or observations on social media, using the hashtag #NLIonline, or by sending an email to

The NLI’s online catalogue can be accessed HERE. For more information, visit