The county seat of Offaly, Tullamore is a bustling market town that thrived during Ireland's economic boom that lasted from the mid-1990s until 2008; like many parts of Ireland it has suffered in the downturn, but with the arrival of the third decade of the 21st century it has experienced an upturn in its fortunes with several excellent hotels, the Bridge Shopping Centre, and an enhanced town square housing a newly opened tourism office. The county council has created a new marketing slogan, branding Offaly "Ireland's Hidden Gem," and while it is hardly the most charismatic phrase, it points to a more coherent identity and renewed collective effort to improve the public realm and promote tourism in both the town and county. Tullamore's historical success was based on its location on the Grand Canal, one of Ireland's most important trading links during the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of the town's most notable older buildings—erected in the 50-year period, 1785–1835—have been preserved, and a leisurely stroll along the streets is a rewarding experience where you can follow signposted trails beside the canal and explore the built heritage.


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