WHAT promises to be a splendid addition to Tullamore's collection of historical publications will be launched in the Central Library, O'Connor Square on Monday, September 2 next (7.30pm).
'An Album of Memories', which has been described as an exceptional collection of memorabilia, brings together more than 100 photographs illustrating the story of one of Tullamore's lasting local voluntary organisations, the Order of Malta.
The book is being published in the year the Tullamore Order of Malta celebrates the 70th anniversary of its foundation.
John Thomas, longtime member of the Order of Malta and a musician in the organisation's band, took on the task of compiling the Album of Memories and earlier this year appealed for photographs which he could include in it.
An exhibition of photographs will also be mounted in Tullamore Library to coincide with the book launch and that display will run for a month so the public can gain an insight into the Order of Malta and its contribution to the local community.
The Tullamore branch was founded on June 20, 1949 and some of the veteran members from years past, Des Walsh, Tom Walsh, Danny Clavin and Michael Maher, are featured in the pages of the new publication.
“There's 120 photographs in it going back to 1949, back to the founder members and up to the present day,” said Mr Thomas.
“We decided we should mark the occasion after 70 years by putting a whole lot of photographs in a book that were never put together before. There aren't too many organisations like it that have been around for 70 years.”
Mr Thomas said he was very grateful to Offaly Historical Society for the help he was given when he was compiling the book.
“We would have been lost, only for the people in the Historical Society. There's an awful lot of work involved in it.”
The album is set out chronologically, decade by decade, with numerous pictures of members in Tullamore, some of them taken during processions and marches through the town centre.
Events such as a dance at the ballroom in the courthouse will also jog memories, as will the photographs of performers in the Order of Malta's two bands, including one taken at the Limerick International Bands Festival, an event which attracted entries from around the world.
Today, the Tullamore unit of the Order of Malta has 40 members and its existence is crucial to some of the area's most important community events, such as the Tullamore Show, which probably could not take place without the medical cover the voluntary organisation provides.
The Order of Malta in Tullamore has three vehicles on the road, two ambulances and a 4x4, all of which are up to HSE emergency medical technician standard.
Indeed, Order of Malta members have gone on to work in the HSE where their initial training with the Tullamore unit has stood them in good stead.
'An Album of Memories' will be launched on Monday evening, September 2, at 7.30pm in Tullamore Library. The book is being printed by PrintPlus/Jet Print this week and will sell for €15.