The Kilcormac area’s history goes right to the Mesolithic era, following the discovery of the nearby Lough Boora Mesolithic site, which is dated back to 6800-6500 AD.
The town was originally settled by St. Cormac who founded a hermitage here. There is much lore and myth around the fascinating death of St. Cormac. A rare and historically important manuscript, the Kilcormac Missal was written here in the 14th Century and now resides in museum of Royal Irish Academy.
The famous Pieta, a statue of Our Lady holding the body of Jesus, from the 16th Century, is located in the church in Kilcormac. Its very existence and survival is an intriguing story in itself – a symbol of the hardship suffered under Penal laws and brave local resistance to Cromwel and Crown’s forces.
Kilcormac boasts a proud industrial heritage – at one point there was 13 mills on the Silver, three of those in the town of Kilcormac, including William’s River Mill, Egan’s Mill and a distillery.
As the milling industry declined in the early 20th Century, the area benefited from the establishment of Bord Na Móna in the 1940’s. The commercial development of bogland in the vast area around Kilcormac became a bustling and thriving home to the multitude of workers who settled here from every county in the country.
The significance of culture and heritage in the area is of great importance to the community. The success of numerous local musicians in Fleadhanna Ceoil, highlights the strong membership of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Indeed, Kilcormac has hosted many Offaly and Leinster Fleadhanna Ceoil over the years. Ballyboy, a small village on the outskirts of Kilcormac is home to Ballyboy Comhaltas, which is one of the strongest in the country.
Traditional arts, notably Bog Oak carving, is quite popular in the area. Our heritage and culture can best be experienced at events throughout the year, including the very unique St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Ballyboy Threshing Festival.
The rich history and heritage of the town and area is currently being captured through an exciting oral history project co-ordinated by Kilcormac Development Association. The Kilcormac Audio Guide explores the rich stories associated with the area, an enduring feature is the powerful sense of community that emerges down through the ages, along with a deep connection to the surrounding landscape in all its diversity. Throughout the guide, you will hear local people narrating stories from the past. To listen to the audio, simply dowland from the following link - https://www.abartaheritage.ie/product/kilcormac-audio-guide/
The community is very active and spirited one, which is borne out in the involvement of locals in organisations and projects. Kilcormac boasts one of the most unique St. Patrick’s Day Parades. Offaly GAA recently selected Kilcormac as the perfect base to locate their Centre of Excellence, Offaly’s Faithfull Fields.
One of the great success stories of community engagement with local enterprise, is the Lough Boora Discovery Park, a national treasure of eco-tourism. In 1994, a project was initiated when Bord Na Móna local management, a group of local workers, and people active in the local communities through its new amenities in the area and its ability to attract visitors from Ireland and overseas in the area.
Whether Hiking in the Slieve Blooms, enjoying a cruise on the River Shannon or discovering the beauty of the beauty of the Grand Canal walkways, Kilcormac has an array of unspoilt, less-travelled hidden gems, that rest off the beaten track.
Kilcormac itself is host to a multitude of walkways, being situated along the Offaly Way.