Today a project which started in 2017, but whose heart lies in an ancient battle was completed with the installation of the Battle of Geashill Sculpture. The Battle itself is a mythical story in the annals of the Four Master which recounts a story of two brothers, Éremon and Eber, who were joint kings of Ireland and of a great fight that took place between them in the hills close to the village of Geashill.
In 2015, Geashill Tidy Towns Committee member Pat Foley submitted an outline of the Battle of Geashill for a "Secrets of Offaly" competition which was being run by Offaly County Council. This brought the story back into public conciousness and a created lots of interest in the Brothers and their connection to our village.
In 2017 local historian Clemens von Ow published his book on the subject, "Heremon & Heber and the Battle of Geashill" This book was launched during Heritage Week in August 2017 and Clemens was kind enough to donate all proceeds from the sale of this book to Geashill Tidy Towns.
The book and the story really captured the public's imagination, particularly in the local community and we knew at the time that we wanted to do more so it was back to the drawing board.
We knew that our 'Picnic Area' on the Portarlington Approach Road was an area needing some visual interest, and we also had been talking for sometime about the idea of a sculptural piece in our village, but we werent sure what it should be or where it should sit. We are firm believers in Geashill Tidy Towns of not pushing a project until we are 100% happy its right and this is proof of that.
The idea of a sculpture to commemorate the Battle of Geashill which could be placed in the Picnic Area overlooking the Esker they fought on seemed just right. And so we turned as we often do to Offaly County Council Heritage Officer Amanda Pedlow. With her help - along with others in the council - we were able to utilise some of our recently received Town and Village Renewal Funding, along with Creative Ireland funding, and the Battle of Geashill Sculpture project went out to tender
As we also found out, the tendering process is not exactly the simplest but after many panel discussions, shortlists, maquette displays, cups of tea, phone calls, emails and bumps in the road our sculptor Holger Lönze was successful and how fortunate we are because he embraced our village and this project with all his heart.
We had the pleasure of working with Holger during this project and it brought us so much joy to see the pieces being created. Holger has documented the thought and creation process on his own website also which is well worth a read
As part of the process Holger also led a group in the Old School recreating a hoard of objects that might have been found after such a battle.These objects were made using wax and are currently being cast in Bronze and will form the sixth and final piece of the sculpture
In late October, the finished Sculpture was finally installed, and after just a few weeks we cannot imagine what this area was like without them. The sculpture is not only beautiful but fits its surroundings perfectly
As described by the Sculptor himself they are "Five galláin, Irish for standing stones, to commemorate some of the protagonists in the legend: Amergin, Éber and Éremón, sons of Míl as well as the Éremon’s wife Tea. The fifth gallán is dedicated to Geashill itself, a place rich in heritage, history and mythology. Inserted into the stone are low-relief plaques inspired by circular Bronze Age objects: shields, sky and sun disks and a lunula. Each object interprets the personas, attributes and topographical features associated with the individual"
And this really is the project that keeps on giving. Holger held a talk for the Children of Geashill National School on Friday 15th November and Holger along with Clemens gave a talk to the Offaly Heritage Forum and the local community on Saturday 16th. It was great to hear from both Clemens and Holger and to have so many people visit our newly installed Sculpture.
This has been one of our most exciting, challenging and rewarding projects and the outcome is a piece of art which should stand tall in our village for many many years.
We would like to thank Sally O'Leary, Amanda Pedlow, Rachel McKenna & Mary Brady in Offaly County Council, Shelly McDonnell, Clemens Von Ow, Feelystone and last but absolutely not least Holger Lönze who not only put considerable time and skill into these pieces, he really embraced the story and our community and we think this is truly reflected in this magnificent sculpture.