The Government has agreed that Level 5 (with some amendments) as set out in the Plan for Living with COVID-19 will continue to apply nationally until July 5th 2021. The Government has clearly stated that there is a continued need to minimise the level of mobility and congregation of people in order to reduce all opportunities for transmission of the virus.

Please note that our library buildings have reopened to the public for Browsing Services and Contact & Collect since Monday, May 10th. Please see Library Page.

Consequently, and in line with current public health guidance, the Offices of Offaly County Council are closed for walk-in services to support this reduced mobility policy.

Public access cannot be facilitated during LEVEL 5 restrictions. Therefore, Offaly County Council services will be available by telephone, email, online post and only where absolutely necessary and in exceptional circumstances by appointment. Please read latest information.

Glass-Making at Glasshouse, Shinrone

3d scan image of glass furnace

In the townland of Glasshouse, outside Shinrone, on private farmland is a unique furnace from the 17th century which was used to make glass.

During the years 1620-1660, Offaly was one of the main glassmaking centres of Ireland. Around this time, French Huguenot glassmakers, such as Phillip Bigoe and Annanias Hensey, came to the county where they constructed small glassmaking factories known as glasshouses. These glasshouses were located close to woodlands of oak and ash, which provided fuel for their glassmaking furnaces. The wood-fired glass furnace at Glasshouse is the only upstanding furnace in Ireland, Britain and France. Today the surface of the furnace interior glistens with the distinctive blue-green glass often described as 'forest-glass'. Wood-fired glass furnaces were replaced by coal-fired glass factories in coastal ports, such as Dublin, Cork and the famous Waterford factory, bringing an end to the period when glass was made in Offaly.

A 3d survey of the structure has been undertaken and can be seen on http://www.offaly.ie/eng/Services/Heritage/Digital-Media/Archaeology-3d/

In 2018 the 17th century furnace was conserved as part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage work with Creative Ireland funding. Reconstruction artist, Paul Francis, visited the site with archaeologist Caimin O'Brien and the image below by Paul is how it is thought the furnace might have looked during production in the 1600s.

Paul Francis reconstruction drawing 2018

For a comprehensive report on research at the site see the 2014 Article Published in Post Medieval Archaeology 'Excavation of an early 17th-century glassmaking site at Glasshouse, Shinrone, Co. Offaly, Ireland' Volume 48 Issue 1 (June 2014), pp. 45-89 with contributions by Jean Farrelly, Caimin O'Brien and others. To purchase a copy of this article contact Maney Online