Baile an fhasaigh, the 'place of the lush grass', is surely a fitting place to grow barley. The Shees clan settled here to the west of the Nore river in the 15th century. Defined by a geology of limestone and sandstone, Sheestown is a rolling, lowland terroir of well-drained loamy soil with outcrops of gravel and drier hilltops. Philip O'Brien has farmed here for half a century, while his daughter, Maura, works with us at the distillery.
Sheestown takes its name from the Shees, a family from Kerry who settled in Kilkenny and became loyal supporters of the House of Butler, earls of Ormonde, during the 15th century. Sir Richard Shee was deputy to the Lord Treasurer of Ireland during Queen Elizabeth’s reign but his descendant, Marcus Shee, was outlawed as a Jacobite in 1691 and fled to France. One of Marcus Shee’s descendants was the charismatic Duke of Feltre, who served as Napoleon Bonaparte’s Minister of War..