FEW of the many thousands who attend the Tullamore show and FBD National Livestock Show may realise the significant and interesting history attached to the site on which it is held.
It was here in the year 1211 A.D., in this place then called Killnagrann now known as Greatwood, Kilmore, that the all-conquering Normans suffered not one, but two defeats.
The annals say that the Normans, having plundered all the great monastic establishments of the Midlands destroying all their wonderful works of art and literature, were assembled where the show-grounds now are, it being the only clearing in the Great Wood of Firceall, preparing to launch another attack on the monasteries of Rahan, Lynally and Durrow.
However, the people of Firceall, led by Cormac MacAirt O Maelaghlen, engaged the Normans in battle and drove them back as far as Kilbeggan.
It was the practice of the Normans to take with them all the spoils of these raids, gold, silver, horses, cattle etc. However, when defeated on this occasion, they had to leave all behind which made for much prosperity in the area for some time.
Evidence of these battles has been discovered by the finding of artefacts on the land in recent years during reclamation and cultivation. A record of these incidents is recorded also in Fr Shaw’s definitive “History of Killoughey”.
The Normans were originally farmers and seafaring folk. They were originally pagans and waged devastation on monastic foundations. A generation on, they became very influential in the Christian faith in Ireland, Many stayed in this country and married Irish women who brought up their children as committed and influential Christians.
Before the arrival of the Normans and the Anglo-Normans, who built many fine castles in the area and also rectangular stone houses, the more important habitations would have been circular ring forts while the most common habitation of the ordinary people would have been huts of wattle and daub in groups that would now be called primitive villages but were then called clachans.
There were two clachans on the grounds of Tullamore Show on the Butterfield Estate.
Later chapters of the history of this area have appeared in the Tribune in the past and in that lovely book “The History Show.”