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Geashill

Geashill

Geashill is a village in County Offaly, Ireland. It is situated between the towns of Tullamore (Tulach Mór) and Portarlington on the R420 regional road. Geashill has a Church of Ireland church, a shop, post office, primary (national) school, a Gaelic Athletic Association and soccer pitch and 3 pubs.

History

Medieval Geashill

An Anglo-Norman settlement was built here between 1185 and 1204 by the first Baron of Offaly, Gerald Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, an ancestor of the Earls of Kildare. Originally of motte-and-bailey design, it was a timber castle on an earthen mound, nearby were located the church and tenant dwellings. In the 1400s the wooded fortress was replaced by a stone tower house. Today, only the west wall of the castle remains.

In 1600, Lettice Fitzgerald, daughter and heir of Gerald, the Lord Offaly of the time, married a Robert Digby of Coleshill, Warwickshire, who was brother of the 1st Earl of Bristol and whose son was created Ist Baron Digby of Geashill in 1620.

19th century

The Digbys developed Geashill as a planned estate village. Samuel Lewis, writing in 1837, described the village as containing 87 mostly thatched houses arranged around a triangular green Fairs were held on May 1st, October 6th and December, the latter being one of the largest pig markets in Ireland. Consisting of over , the Digby estate was the largest in County Offaly. The 9th Baron Lord Digby carried out extensive improvements in the 1860s and 1870s and many of the current buildings around the triangular green date from this time. The Kings County Directory recorded that Digby had "converted the village of Geashill into what it now is, one of the neatest, cleanest and best kept in Ireland"

At the Paris Exhibition of 1867 Lord Digby was awarded the bronze medal for models of the village he was building. He was awarded the gold medal for three years by the Royal Agricultural Society, for improving the greatest number of cottages in the best manner in the Province of Leinster. The Digbys built a house called Geashill Castle near the medieval tower house but this was burnt down during the Civil War in 1922

Transport

References

Historical references

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