Journal Volume 2 1995

The Old Corn Mill, Killincarrig (continued/1)

Without access to the papers of the Jones Estate we have no details of the workings of the mill, how many people were employed there, how much was produced, prices paid etc In terms of size, it would have been a great deal smaller than say the large mills of Cork and Dublin or of the large towns such as Carlow which in 1809 produced 120,000 barrels of grain. The mill at Clonmel is described by Burke in his Industrial History of Ireland as being as big as a large English factory at the time.

Nevertheless, the mill at Killincarrig is by any standards a substantial building, dominating the local landscape. The structure as it stands today reveals a basement / ground floor and four upper storeys partially covered by a hipped slate roof. There are numerous windows, some being blocked up. Most of the timbers are said to have been removed during the War for fire wood. There is no trace of any of the machinery. Outside one can clearly see where the giant water wheel was located. The water course which powered the mill can be traced, (see map ) In the North east corner of the Northern 'wing' there is what appears to be a brick chimney stack extending from the ground floor to above the roof.

The birth of the mill probably occurred as a result of the stimulus of Fosters Corn Laws. The cause and time of its demise is less clear but is undoubtedly linked with a severe and prolonged drop in prices and/or with a change of ownership.

The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1845 terminated the preferential treatment given to Irish corn on the British market (Irish exports of grain in 1840 to Britain was 2.3 million barrels). In the second half of the last Century; the British market was steadily opened up to foreign corn and this steady decline in Irish exports was accentuated by the availability of large quantities of cheap corn after the 1850s from America. The decline had in fact started as far back as 1815 on the cessation of the French Wars with prices dropping by 100% in one year.

Moreover from 1835 onwards tillage was virtually abandoned in favour of the less labour intensive grazing. Furthermore with the application of more scientific methods of manufacture to the industry such as the roller system in 1883 ‘the old- fashioned local mills were forced to close their doors’ (Burke). Between 1910 and 1914 huge Port Mills sprang up in Britain. Mass production led to surplus stock being dumped on the Irish Market at prices below production costs here.

Notwithstanding those negative developments, in 1907 the Irish milling industry employed 5,000 people with a total output of £7,500,000. Some indication of the layout of the mill may be gleaned from the accompanying illustration of Garrylough mill in County Wexford and from the cutaway section that follows later (reproduced from Dr. A.M. O'Sullivan's Garrylough Mill and the General Developments of Water Mills in County Wexford (J.W.H.S.)).

Garrylough Mill (c) Jonathan Billinger

Garrylough is similar in size to Killincarrig with our mill having an extra storey. The wet or green corn was dried when smokeless heat from an anthracite furnace on the ground floor passed through special perforated tiles through the spread out corn. This might account for the chimney on the north wing.

 

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