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County Offaly
Location: 53°17’42"N, 7°17’31"W
Population: 777  (2002)
Post town: Daingean
Postcode: R35
Dialling code: 057
Local Government
Website: [1]

Daingean for most of its history known as Philipstown, is a small town and townland in the east of County Offaly. It is found midway between the towns of Tullamore and Edenderry on the R402 regional road. The whole townland of Daingean had a population in 2002 of 777.

The name used for the town today name is the Irish word Daingean, from An Daingean, meaning "the fort" or it may be called Daingean Ua bhFáilghe. These Gaelic names were adopted in a nationalistic flourish in order to remove an English name, Philipstown, from the map.


Philipstown was established in 1556, and was made the county town of King's County, where the Queen put an English plantation. The town and the county was so named after Mary's consort, King Philip II of Spain.

The town was once the seat of the O'Connor clan, who were chieftains of the surrounding area of Offaly. Its new-minted name 'Daingean' is from Daingean Ua bhFáilghe meaning fortress of the Uí Fáilghe clan, from the mediæval island fortress of O'Connor Faly.

In 1883 Tullamore replaced Daingean as the focal point of the county. It was in 1922, with the foundation of the Irish Free State that Philipstown was renamed Daingean, and King's County as County Offaly.

Daingean has long boasted a strong status as a prime Irish Midlands town and this was never more evident than at the start of the 20th century when Daingean displayed at various points a number of important public buildings including the courthouse, the design of which is locally attributed to James Gandon, designer of the Four Courts in Dublin. In addition there is a children's reformatory, remnants of a military barracks (known as the footbarrack) giving its name to the bridge leading out of the town towards Tullamore - the footbarrack bridge. There are the remnants of a Church of Ireland church and a Roman Catholic church. Of these buildings all can still be seen in various states but few are still used for their original functions within the village. The courthouse has functioned as a town hall, dance hall and bingo palace having been renovated in the 1980s by the state training body AnCO, using local labour.

A bog body, given the name Old Croghan Man, was found near Daingean in 2004 and featured on the BBC Two Timewatch programme in January 2006.

A book called From the Quiet Annals of Daingean was written and published by John Kearney of Main Street in December 2006.[1]

While there is a local farming economy, many of the people from Daingean work in Tullamore or as far afield as Dublin or Athlone while commuting daily. Daingean is surrounded by the Bog of Allen and Bord Na Mona (BnM) remains a key employer, however the number employed is much reduced from the heyday when local people made a good living working at the Briquette Factory and on the bog including significant numbers of seasonal workers. The ESB power station at nearby Rhode was also a significant employer before its closure. Even in the period of very high unemployment in the 1980s the ESB and BnM trained local men in their apprenticeship programmes.

Tourist attractions

The Grand Canal, which links Dublin and the River Shannon, passes through the village. The village has its own 18-hole golf course, Castle Barna Golf Club.

Cultural events

The Daingean Homecoming Festival is a week-long event hosted at the beginning of each August.[2] One of the most anticipated events at the festival is a raft race on the Grand Canal other events include the parade, traditional threshing, karaoke competition and children's day in recent years the canal gladiators competition was introduced. During the Daingean Homecoming Festival a Festival Queen is selected by a panel of judges.[3] The festival Queen selection is made in a similar style to the Rose of Tralee. On the Friday night of the Homecoming Festival Tullamore Harriers Athletic Club organise the annual "Daingean 5 km Road Race". This race makes four loops of the town on a three-mile circuit including Main Street, Church Street, Canal View, and Circular Road. A set of Flickr photographs[4] are available for the 2011 race. The race is usually well attended with over 100 runners taking part adding colour and excitement to the town.