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Geashill in 50 Objects

Geashill in 50 Objects, The Start of the Journey is the first part of a 2 year project highlighting some of the objects, stories, songs and people linked with our beautiful Heritage Village.


Geashill was once home to the Digby Estate, the largest in County Offaly at over 30,000 acres and also to a large commercial flower nursery at Alderborough, supplying flowers around the world. We also have a rich farming heritage and strong links to the land and bogs around us. This project started small but has quickly grown into a fantastic collection of objects, songs and stories about or connected to Geashill.


As part of Heritage Week 2020 we are highlighting just 4 of those 50 objects

- The Geashill Cauldron

- The Battle of Geashill (Tune)

- The Geashill Schools Dúchas collection

-  "William Stuart Trench & his management of the Digby Estate 1857-71", A book by Mary Delaney 

Below are a series of interviews, clips, music and images with information on these 4 Objects. In 2021 we hope to hold a series of exhibtions and events highlighting all 50 objects. 

The Geashill Cauldron is a large metal pan which is housed in the National Museum of Ireland, and it has a really great story to tell. Lisa Shortall of Offaly History put together this great video telling the story of the Cauldron from its discovery in 1859, its disappearance during the War of Independence and its eventual deposit in the National Museum of Ireland in 1955.

Thank you to Lisa and to @OffalyHistory for this video and their support with this project

The Geashill Cauldron. By Lisa Shortall

The Geashill Cauldron. By Lisa Shortall

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The Battle of Geashill march was composed by flute player, composer and long time Comhaltas member John Brady and performed in this video by his daughter Attracta Brady, her husband Ned O’Connor & their daughter Roisin O’Connor.

The Battle of Geashill as recorded in the Lebor Gabala Érenn is a battle between two brothers Éremon & Éber which is also the subject of our beautiful Scupture in the Picnic Area.

Attracta Brady  has also shared some lovely memories of her Dad below. We hope you enjoy these words and the tune.

“John Brady was a person very much in tune with nature (excuse the pun). He spent his days working the land, in his early years with horses and in later years with his tractor. He heard phrases and notes in the air around him, the rustling of the trees, the singing of the birds, lowing of cattle - indeed whatever there was at the time. Often he had nowhere to record the phrases. In those times, he went into the kitchen for his dinner - always in the middle of the day - and wrote out the notes on whatever piece of paper he found. At the end of the day, he returned to it and built the tune around the phrase that had attracted him earlier in the day. The phrases could be in reel time, jig time, hornpipe time, march time, or even a slow air.

Sometimes he discarded the tune as not good enough. Other times, he was very pleased with the tune and made sure that we learned it from him. At times we were challenged to like the tune - when this happened he always encouraged us to play the tune so often that in the end we liked it as much as he did!" He was always proud of his tunes and was always delighted if he heard one of them on the radio or television. He also appreciated the times that the musicians played the original versions of the tunes , although there were times when musicians put in variations or different notes that he liked too.

He named the march "The Battle of Geashill" because of his huge interest in history. All the names were used out of respect for local places and to immortalise them.”

The Battle of Geashill

The Battle of Geashill

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The Dúchas school’s collection consists over 740,000 pages of folklore and oral tradition, recorded by pupils from 5,000 schools in Ireland (or the Irish FreeState as it was then) between 1937 and 1939. The scheme was initiated by the Irish Folklore Commission under the direction of Séamus Ó Duilearga and Séan Ó Súilleabháin, Honorary Director and Registrar of the Commission respectively.

It is a fantastic collection of stories, folktales, legends, games, pastimes and crafts as written by more than 50,000 children who were enlisted to collect this folklore from their families and home districts.

A number of these accounts came from Geashill National School, which at that time housed in what is now known now as the “Old School” building in Geashill. For #HeritageWeek2020 we have chosen two wonderful stories recorded by Kathleen Bolton & Joe Daly. Both still have family living in the area. 

If you enjoy these there are plenty more stories, cures and folkore to read in the Geashill N.S. collection which can be accessed through the images below

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