Edenderry, County Offaly, and the Downshire estate, 1790–1800
In the history of the 1798 rising in Ireland, Offaly is regarded as the forgotten county. It was not the scene of major military activity, but that does no mean that it was unaffected by the disturbances that afflicted the Irish midlands in that year. This study shows that in one part of the county, around the old Quaker settlement in Edenderry, the agrarian secret societies that underlay the rising were as active as in many other parts of Ireland. In particular, problems between the landlord, the marquis of Downshire, and his tenants fed social tensions produced by more general economic conditions to ensure that Edenderry would be as disturbed as many other parts of the country during the years 1795–97. Why then did these problems not translate into more open violence during 1798 itself? This study answers these crucial questions, central to understanding the history of the 1798 rising at a local level.