The accompanying photograph of Castlecoote Mill was taken sometime after the 1860s and shows the dwelling house of the mill owner, probably Messrs. Kilroe. A McLaughlin family managed the mill in the 1860s but was acquired by the Kilroes about that time. It is said that a female member of the Kilroe family was an avid photographer and she may be responsible for taking the photo. There are a number of people in view and these include a lady in her finery and a young girl beside the front door while in the garden there are four men and another lady looking towards the camera.
The house itself still stands but was raised another half-storey in the late 1950s to make it a full two-storey by the late Mr. Mark Delany; it was the same as in the photo until that time. Some features to be seen include
- the growing of tobacco plants in the foreground, a nice, well-tended garden in front with shrubs and flowers neatly laid out, and four elegant yew trees.
- A rich covering of ivy covers the wall probably supplemented with a climbing rose.
- The ubiquitous bird-cage so common in the last century hangs from the wall near the door.
- The vegetable garden appears to be on the right of picture.
- Also on this side can be seen the drum-shaped grain dryer with a wimple-shaped slated and a copper (or lead ?) clad roof.
During the old days, the threshold grain was spread here on a floor of perforated tiles known as 'Worcester' brick tiles. They were about a foot sq. each and were supported on a raft tramlines. The floor was heated from below by a turf fire contained within a brick kiln and fed fuel through an entrance known as a 'poitin'. The grain had to be turned with a wooden shovel until a critical level of dryness was achieved. It was then ready to be ground on the milestone platform. This was all hard, hot and sweaty work especially the drying floor, hot, smokey and suffocating. As can be seen in the photo the dryer had a ventilator on top to allow the hot vapour to escape. Very little of this dryer is left today. At the rear the large grain store can be seen still fairly recognisable today.
A severe fire occurred here in 1944 and bags tuff burned for six weeks in the large central store. The floors had to be replaced and the roof renewed.
Cheaper production methods affected mills from the 1920s onwards and hundreds of them went out of production. The bigger ones like Castlecoote that could diversify managed to survive and had twenty to thirty people working there in the 1950s.
Messrs. Farrells bought the mill in the 1930s and one of the first things they did was to install a large diesel engine to work most of the gearing. This engine was a Ruston Hornsby 100 h.p. made in Lincolnshire and was originally from Mitchelstown Creamery where it was used to generate electricity. It was brought up from there in lorries in parts and then put together. Not an easy job as the flywheel alone is 4V2 tons and the single-piston 14 inches diameter. It has to be started with the aid of an air compressor and worked for years running a new advanced type of dryer, a hammer mill and a sawmill.
With the advent of electricity to Castlecoote in the late 50s its days were numbered and is silent now for 25 years.
With the siting of the castle of Castlecoote closely and the villages of Castlecoote and Fuerty being popular a corn mill served here for centuries and though the wheel is now silent and the millrace and millstream filled in, the business is still in operation serving the farmer alongside the pleasant meandering waters of the river Suck.
Thanks are due to Mrs. Mamie Delany for the loan of photograph and to Mr. Christy Neilan, Muff, who knew everything about the Ruston, saw it installed as a boy, worked it for years and would love to restore it. He said it was one of two only ever installed in Ireland.
|Roscommon Historical & Archaeological Society||Ireland||VIEW SOURCE|
|NIAH Buildings of Ireland: Farrell's Ltd||Ireland||VIEW SOURCE|