Local History

Richhill is a town which in the past was not only famous for its Furniture Making, The Linen Trade, Markets & Fairs, but indeed infamous for the Sports of the Fighting Birds, The Hunt & The Sport of Kings (The Horse Race).

Today the woodland to the north of Richhill House are prominent landmarks, visible from the roads approaching the village. Richhill sits on a Drumlin, a hill formed by outwash from the melting glaciers at the end of the last ice age some 12,000 years ago. The village owes its existence to the strategic location of the hill, it’s 270 degree visibility of the distant horizon to the West, North, East and South, with the presence of its own natural source of spring water at the top of the hill.

Nothing is known about the pre-history of Richhill center but with the numerous hill forts on the neighbouring Drumlins it seems unlikely that its strategic location & fresh water remained hidden from our curious and inventive ancestors. As people started to settle in Ireland about 10,000 years ago. Some 5,200 years ago those early inhabitants displayed their monumental invention, innovation & creativity at Newgrange in the Boyne Valley.

4,800 years later the townland of Legacorry (from the Irish Log a’ Choire), as it was known at that time, was emerging as a north-south and east-west crossroads. Geographically, geology & hydrogeology made it a very good place to settle. After the Flight of the Earls in 1607, King James 1 implemented the plantation of Ulster. In May 1610 the manor lands of Mullalelish & Legacorry were granted to Francis de Scheverall from Leicestershire.

In or around 1654 Anne Sachaverall, the granddaughter of the original landlord of the Village, married Major Edward Richardson. He was later to become High Sheriff & MP for County Armagh. They developed what was to become Richhill Castle & established markets and fairs. By 1660 Cromwell's commissioners were able to describe Legacorry as a town of 20 houses & suitable for the establishment of a School & Parish Church.

Around 1680 Legacorry had been given a new name, Richardson's Hill. Then shortened the name of Richhill, was in common use by 1740.

The Square, once being a Coach stop meant the Armagh to Belfast & Dublin stages passed over the hill some four days per week. Not such a task today with motorised transport, but in the days of horse drawn coach, & before the construction of The New Line, the Hill on which the town is built caused much distress to the horses & passengers concerned. A common accuracy was that the passengers would dismount at the foot of the Hill, walk the few hundred yards to The Square & avail of the services on offer at the Inn. Thus, missing the jaunting & discomfort caused as the horses struggled the ascent, as today this same hill still seems to cause much distress to those on foot, with the request that something should be done! Not that uncommon.

Market days would have been a scene, with all in town excited by the dealings of the day. Any stranger to the Town may have been bewildered by the sites & goings on.The Square, on which the town derived, was the central location for these events. The village prospered during the 18th century, particularly as a Linen Market. Richhill was famous for Racing, Hunting & Cock Fighting. By the end of the century, the main Churches had established their presence in the Village & by 1814, the population was 734, slightly larger than Portadown.

By 1838, the Town had 167 houses. 4 Meeting Houses, a Market House, 2 Schools, a Police Office, 3 Doctors, 5 Publicans, 6 Tanners, 7 Shoemakers, 9 Grocers, 1 Excise Man, 5 Carpenters & a Baker.

The Linen Market, which had been among the best in the linen trade around 1785, was nominal by 1835, & eventually the Market House which William Richardson had built in 1753 was converted to a Chapel of Ease, now St. Matthew's Parish Church. From the mid 19th Century, village fortunes then slowly declined with the by-passing of the village by the railway and road networks and changes in the patterns of industry.

The 20th century witnessed soft fruit growing & jam making at Fruitfield & Furniture making.

Richhill was granted Conservation Area status in 1993.