The first archaeological evidence of life in the area of Richhill dates back to 7,000 BC. The first human inhabitants came here in the Bronze Age and many lived in the ring forts that can be found nearby. The early recorded history of the village is mainly that of the nearby parish of Kilmore, of which Legacorry was a part until 1837.
The sixteenth century was a period of great turbulence in Ireland as the English sought to extend their rule. The conflict this provoked grew in intensity after the English Reformation and eventually led to the Nine Years War.
The seventeenth century opened with the Plantation of Ulster, during which the 7,000 acre Richhill estate was created by Francis Sacheverell, an English businessman. The rebellion of 1641 resulted in atrocities and suffering on both sides. After Cromwell subdued Ireland an army officer, Major Edward Richardson, married a Sacheverell heiress and founded the dynasty that would own the estate for the next 250 years. Richardson built Richhill Castle and established the basic layout of the village.
Picture: Sir Arthur Chichester
Richhill grew in importance during the seventeenth century, in which it became a centre of the burgeoning linen trade. Agriculture continued to be important, however, and fairs and markets were held regularly in the village. The Richardson family encouraged the construction of churches at which a range of different denominations worshipped. The century was also a period of continued sectarian strife which culminated in the Battle of the Diamond and the foundation of the Orange Order.
The nineteenth century began with the decline of the linen trade, continued with the Great Hunger and ended with the death of Mrs Bacon, the last of the Richardson family to own the entire estate. Improvements in agriculture resulted in better land management and increased productivity on the local farms, but the overall prosperity of the village declined.
The early years of the twentieth century were momentous for the village. The Richardson and Gosford estates were broken up and sold to the tenantry. The Home Rule movement found strong resistance in the village, which welcomed Carson and enthusiastically supported the Ulster Covenant. Most significant of all was the Great War. Richhill men and women volunteered to fight in large numbers and many became casualties, particularly at the Battle of the Somme. Richhill also responded to their country's call during the Second World War and during the period known as 'The Troubles'.