GEASHILL

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

GEASHILL, a post-town and parish, partly in the barony of UPPER PHILIPSTOWN, but chiefly in that of GEASHILL, KING'S county, and province of LEINSTER, 4 miles (S.) from Philipstown, and 51 (S. by W.) from Dublin, on the road from Portarlington to Tullamore; containing 13,253 inhabitants, of which number, 467 are in the town. The castle, of which there are some remains, anciently belonging to the O'Dempseys, from whom, with the surrounding territory, it passed to the Fitzgeralds, and in 1620, by marriage, to Sir Robert Digby, whose lady surviving him was besieged in it for several months, but was relieved in 1642. The town contains 87 houses arranged in a triangular form, most of which are thatched. It is a constabulary police station, has a dispensary, a patent for a market which is not held, and fairs on May 1st, Oct. 6th, and Dec. 26th, which last is one of the largest pig fairs in the kingdom; fairs are also held at Killeigh.

The parish comprises 34,630 statute acres, and is the property of the Earl Digby; the soil is a deep clay, with a substratum of limestone gravel: there is a large extent of bog and some building stone, and the Earl Digby has large nurseries of forest trees; agriculture is but little improved. Sir W. Cusack Smith, Bart., has a seat at Newtown. It is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Kildare, forming the corps of the prebend of Geashill in the cathedral of Kildare, and in the patronage of Earl Digby: the tithes amount to £1292. 6. l ¾. The glebe-house is a quarter of a mile from the church, and there are two glebes, comprising 82 acres. The parochial church is a plain neat edifice, rebuilt in 1814 by aid of a loan of £1500 from the late Board of First Fruits, and for the repairs of which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £182. At Killeigh and Cloneyhork are chapels of ease; the former, to which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £196 for repairs, is built on the site of the old monastery, part of which is incorporated with the present building.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is partly in the union or district of Ballykeane, and partly in that of Portarlington, and has chapels at Killeigh and Ballinagar, belonging to the former union, and at Kilmalogue for the latter. There are two places of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. The parochial school is aided by an annual donation of £15 from Earl Digby; the school-house was built at the expense of the late R. E. Digby, Esq.; and there are a national and six other public schools; altogether affording instruction to about 670 children; and 15 private schools, in which are about 660 children: there are also 11 Sunday schools. Vestiges of the castle yet exist, and near Ballinagar are the ruins of a church. Geashill gives the inferior title of Baron to Earl Digby.—See BALLINAGAR and KILLEIGH.

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