/aw"feuh lee, of"euh-/, n.
a county in Leinster, in the central Republic of Ireland. 51,829; 760 sq. mi. (1970 sq. km). Co. seat: Tullamore.

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Irish  Uibh Fhailaí 

      county in the province of Leinster, central Ireland. Offaly is bounded by Counties Westmeath and Meath (north), Kildare (east), Laoighis and Tipperary (south), and Galway and Roscommon (west). The River Shannon (Shannon, River) forms its western boundary.

      Offaly consists mainly of a large section of the central lowland, though its southwestern boundary runs along the crest of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Its terrain is primarily a mixture of peat bogs and cultivable land composed of glacial drift. A notable geologic feature is the fine series of eskers (esker) (long ridges of postglacial gravel), notably at Clonmacnoise, an ancient monastic site near the Shannon. Offaly has many raths (prehistoric hill forts) and a chain of mottes, which command passes through the bogs. Remains of ancient churches and monasteries are scattered along the countryside.

 Offaly is united with Laoighis under a county manager but has its own county council. Birr and Tullamore are urban districts. More than two-fifths of the population live in villages and towns, the largest of which is Tullamore, the county town (seat). Two-thirds of the county's improved farmland is permanent pasture, one-fifth is under crops, and the rest is used as meadow. Wheat and barley are among the most important crops. Peat is an important source of fuel. There are various light industries, including food processing, and textile, furniture, and whiskey manufacturing. The area also has attracted some high-technology companies. Tullamore and Clara are on a branch railway line from Athlone to Portarlington, and the Grand Canal still carries cargo.

      Offaly formed part of the ancient kingdom of Offaly and was inhabited by O'Connors. Following the rebellion of Brian O'Connor, it was annexed to the English crown during the reign of Edward VI. Offaly was shired as King's county in 1556. A plan for colonizing Laoighis and Offaly was adopted by the government under Mary I, but the inhabitants resisted for the rest of the century, being subdued only at the beginning of the reign of James I (1603). Area 773 square miles (2,001 square km). Pop. (2002) 63,663; (2006) 70,868.

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Universalium. 2010.

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