About County Offaly

County Offaly

Combining Stunning Natural Landscapes and a Deep History

In the Heart of Ireland

County Offaly, situated in the heart of Ireland, stands as a region of significant cultural and historical importance. Nestled within the province of Leinster, Offaly is bordered by seven counties: Galway, Roscommon, Tipperary, Laois, Westmeath, Kildare, and Meath. This central location has historically positioned Offaly as a vital hub for trade, travel, and cultural exchange.

What sets County Offaly apart is not just its strategic geographical positioning, but also its rich tapestry of landscapes. From the lush expanses of the Slieve Bloom Mountains to the tranquil waters of the River Shannon, Offaly offers a diverse array of natural beauty. These unique features make it an attractive destination for both residents and visitors alike, fostering a strong sense of community and belonging.

The county is also home to a wealth of heritage sites, reflecting its storied past. Birr Castle, with its historic gardens and giant telescope, stands as a testament to the county’s contributions to science and exploration. Similarly, Clonmacnoise, an ancient monastic site, offers a glimpse into the religious and cultural life of early Irish society. These landmarks, among others, highlight the historical significance of County Offaly.

Quick facts

County Offaly by the Numbers


Population (2022)


Highest Elevation (metres)


Land area (square km)


According to the latest census figures, the county has a population of approximately 82,000 inhabitants. This population is distributed across various age groups, genders, and ethnicities, painting a vivid picture of the county’s demographic makeup.


In terms of age distribution, the population is fairly balanced. Approximately 20% of residents are aged 0-14, highlighting a significant youth demographic. The working-age population, those aged 15-64, constitutes around 65% of the total population. Meanwhile, the elderly population, those aged 65 and above, makes up about 15%, reflecting the national trend of an aging population.


Gender demographics in County Offaly are also quite balanced, with a nearly equal split between males and females. The latest data indicates that females represent slightly over 50% of the population, while males account for just under 50%. This parity is consistent with broader national demographics.


Ethnicity in County Offaly is predominantly Irish, with over 90% of the population identifying as such. However, there is a growing presence of other ethnic groups, including Polish, Lithuanian, and other European communities, as well as a modest representation of Asian and African ethnicities. This increasing diversity is reflective of broader migration trends in Ireland.


When considering population density, County Offaly is relatively sparsely populated, with an average density of about 35 people per square kilometer. This low density is more pronounced in rural areas, which cover the majority of the county. Urban areas, such as the towns of Tullamore, Birr, and Edenderry, exhibit higher densities, serving as economic and social hubs.


Over the past few decades, notable demographic trends in County Offaly include a gradual increase in population, driven by both natural growth and inward migration. The county has also seen a slight shift towards urbanization, with more residents moving to towns in search of employment and amenities. These demographic changes provide valuable insights into the evolving character of County Offaly.

A Brief History

County Offaly, situated in the heart of Ireland, boasts a rich and diverse history that dates back to prehistoric times. Archaeological evidence suggests that the area was inhabited as far back as the Neolithic period, with numerous ancient structures such as megalithic tombs and stone circles dotting the landscape. These early settlers laid the foundation for the region’s long and storied past.


The arrival of the ancient Celtic tribes marked a significant period in Offaly’s history. The O’Connors and the O’Carrolls were among the prominent clans that dominated the region. These tribes built impressive ring forts and were instrumental in establishing the Gaelic cultural and social structures that would shape the county for centuries.


The Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century brought profound changes to Offaly. The Normans constructed formidable castles, such as Leap Castle, which remains one of the most haunted castles in Ireland. The establishment of new towns and the introduction of feudalism also significantly altered the social and economic landscape.


During the 16th and 17th centuries, County Offaly was deeply affected by the Tudor re-conquest and the subsequent plantation policies. The county played a notable role during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, with local clans participating in the fight against English rule. The rebellion, however, was suppressed, leading to further land confiscations and the decline of Gaelic influence.


The Great Famine of the mid-19th century left an indelible mark on Offaly, as it did on the rest of Ireland. The famine resulted in widespread suffering, population decline, and mass emigration. Despite these hardships, the resilient people of Offaly rebuilt their lives, and the county gradually recovered.


In more recent history, Offaly has continued to develop while preserving its rich heritage. Notable historical figures from the county include Charles William Parsons, the inventor of the steam turbine, and President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, who was born in Limerick but has strong family ties to Offaly. Today, County Offaly stands as a testament to Ireland’s enduring spirit, with its historical landmarks and cultural traditions continuing to attract visitors from around the world.


County Offaly experiences a temperate maritime climate, characterized by mild temperatures and relatively high humidity throughout the year. This climate type is typical for most of Ireland, influenced largely by the Atlantic Ocean and the prevailing southwesterly winds. The county enjoys moderate weather patterns, with no extreme temperatures, making it a comfortable place to live and visit.


Seasonal variations in County Offaly are generally mild. Winters are cool, with average temperatures ranging from 2°C to 8°C (35°F to 46°F), while summers are moderately warm, with temperatures typically between 12°C and 20°C (54°F to 68°F). Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, though the months of October and January often see the highest rainfall. Annual precipitation levels hover around 800 to 1,200 millimeters (31 to 47 inches), contributing to the county’s lush, green landscapes.


The climate in County Offaly has a significant impact on daily life, agriculture, and tourism. The mild and wet conditions are ideal for farming, making agriculture a cornerstone of the local economy. The region’s fertile soils and abundant rainfall support the growth of various crops, including barley, wheat, and potatoes, as well as the raising of livestock. The consistent weather patterns allow for year-round agricultural activities, ensuring a steady supply of fresh produce.


For residents, the temperate climate means outdoor activities can be enjoyed throughout the year, from walking and cycling to exploring the picturesque landscapes. Tourism is also positively influenced by the climate, as visitors can comfortably explore historical sites, natural parks, and other attractions without the concern of extreme weather conditions. The mild summers and cool winters make County Offaly an appealing destination for those looking to experience Ireland’s natural beauty in a tranquil setting.