Mills By The Suir

By Aideen Quinn 6h class 1999


The first half of the 19th century was the golden age of cornmills powered by waterwheels in Ireland. Hundreds of mills were built adjacant to streams and small rivers all over the country. In many cases a number of mills were built in close proximity to one another and were fed by the same stream. In Kilmacow there were at least 14 mills. On a stretch of the King's River which is a tributary of the "Nore" Sister river of the "Suir" there are at least 16 mills in reasonable order of repair. One is fully restored and will be opened in June 1999.  Throughout the country,  villages,  towns  and  streets have   the name  "Mill" indicating the presence of  a  Mill at some time.

Part of a Gear Mill wheel which turned the inner works

A typical mill was a 3, 4 or 5 story buildings. On the ground floor the gearing from the waterwheel occupied one area, the grain was delivered and the finished product collected from another, while the furnace for the drying room was also on this level.

On the first floor were the millstones, the drying room or kiln, and the sleeping quarters of the miller. The remaining floors provided areas for storing the grain. A series of trap doors linked the floors and ladders , were used to move up and down.

A typical waterwheel was about 5.5m in diameter and 1.5m wide and this was rotated by the weight of the water. Most mills had shops attached to them and provided a service to the local community in addition to their main business.

An example of this, was Clogga Mill which provided the local community with a shop. As the years passed the water powered mills gradually gave way to new forms of power and the industry became increasingly more centralised.

The old water powered mills not only provided the essential process of milling, but in many areas and localities, they were also social meeting places where people met and exchanged gossip, and plans were prepared for local events. But like so many other aspects of our past the old water mills are now part of Irelands rich history.


Grinding Stone


Part of Axel


Clogga Mill

Clogga Mill, situated In the parish of Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny was in operation up to the mid 1950s. There were three local people employed at the mill. The mill was used to grind wheat to make flour, and also used to grind corn for animal feed. The manager at the time was a man by the name of John O’ Shea. The mill is now owned by the Hogan family.

Portlaw Cotton Mill

The old tannery in Portlaw was first a working cotton mill owned by the Malcomson family from Belfast. They imported their cotton supply from America. The cottton mill went down hill when the Malcomson family lost most of their money through a bet when they wrongly backed the losers of the American Civil War. After a period of time the mill became a leather factory known as the Portlaw Tannery.


The mills of Kilmacow

Following is a list of fourteen known mills in Kilmacow which include , linen paper , linen and carding mills, corn and flour mills.

1.Linen paper mill ,The knock ,Kilmacow
2.Greenvale linen mill
3. Kilmacow flax carding mill
4.Scroders mill ,Greenvale
5. Dangan mill
6. Brown's mill Greenville
7. Cronin's mill , Upper Kilmacow
8. Goouche's mill 'Lower Greenville
9. Loughry's mil , Kilmacow
!0.The Pill mill
11.Kelly's / Cooks mill, Lower Kilmacow
12. Newtown or Cappagh mill

Linen paper mill

Early in the 1700s, John Green of Greenville, introduced a linen paper mill into the parish of Kilmacow. It was built on what is now known as the ' Farm ' or the ' Knock ' close to the Kilmacow sports complex.We do not know the size of this mill, but we do know it had a vat and was driven by a 16ft waterwheel.


Flax carding mill

In 1746 a Belfast linen merchant named Patrick Smith arrived in Waterford to start a linen industry. A few years later in 1949 a linen carding mill at Lower Kilmacow was built by a son of Patrick Smith. The flax mill was powered by a breast shot water wheel which rotated specially constructed brush rollers , which in turn combed the linen fibre into straight 4ft lenghts. From these the thread was spun on the spinning wheels in the homes of the local people. It is not known how many people were employed in this mill or when it ceased operation.


Two  views  of  Kells  Mill

Kells  Mills  May 2000