About 800 years ago the Normans brought the skill of using water powered mills to grind grain to many villages along the Suir and in particular to Kells Co Kilkenny. When we visited Kells we saw the remains of two mills.
One in full working order and one partially restored.We learned that there was a total of 16 mills along the Kings River. The river got its name because the King drowned trying to save his loyal servant. There is an old saying ‘If you spit into the river a mile down it will overflow’. We went to visit a mill called the Mullins mill.
the head of the Mill was a mill
race. The water was controlled by this sluice
gate. The water flowed over the Millwheel. The
Millwheel turned the other wheels inside. To set a the inside in motion
large belts were applied about smaller wheels. To stop the operation the belt
was removed by a lever.
the year 1200 Geoffrey
FitzRobert built his own mill in Kells. The site of the mill was carefully
chosen in relation to the fall of the river and its flow. The mill site is Right
before where the FitzRoberts castle gate would have led from
the castle motte On to the old roadway beside the river. Mills could only
be set up with a special Licence from the local landlord . The Mullins family
were French protestants Who came to Ireland during the 17th century.
The first known Mullins miller, Patrick married Elanor Comerford in 1790. At
first a flax mill, was set up beside the grain mill. In the early days about 80
percent of the land was sown with wheat barley and oats.
We saw Bolands Mill, this large old 5 storey mill has being restored. It is called after Arthur Boland a Mayo man who married Lilly Hutchenson in 1954.
We went into one of the
mills. Outside the mill there was one large mill wheel. It is an undershot wheel. Undershot is when the water goes
under the millwheel and turns it anti clockwise. The wheel was made of iron and
wood. When we went inside the mill we saw two big wooden gears or cogs. The cogs
had to be greased every two months. A
bar was joined to the wheel and was connected to each story in the mill.
On the ground floor all the grain was collected and weighed. We saw old fashioned Weighing scales, slashers, wooden shovels, knives and an old wooden trolley for Carrying the bags of grain.
On the second floor the grain was
ground into flour by milling stones. These stones Turned and ground the corn.
Also on this floor there tiles with holes on them for Drying the corn.
The third floor is a café for tourists in the summer.
On the first floor there was a
Furnace. Hot air would rise up trough tiles. These were Special tiles called Kiln
tiles. They had holes through which the hot air passed
to dry the grain.
life of a Miller.
There is a thatched cottage across the road from the mill it was here the miller lived.
The last miller Paddy Mullins died age 57. The principal worker in the mill was the miller. He was responsible for adjusting the mill stones and production decisions. He was also in charge of the grinding process and of blending the various varieties of wheat to produce good quality flour.
He dressed the stones and the
Wheelwright repaired the of the wheel.
The millstones were always used in
pairs. They were made from stone called French Burr which was quarried in the
Paris basin. The stones were made up of 18 pieces of stone shaped and fitted
together in a circle with plaster of Paris and banded with iron bands.
The lower stone had often to be dressed by a stone dresser. He cut ‘grooves’ and ‘lands’ into the two stones. The quality the flour often depended on the expertise of the stonedresser.
This project is by Fifth Class after a visit to Kells as part of SIP. May 2000
Thanks to our guests at Kells for all the information.