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Hi, My family name is Gillis. I know they had linen mills in Armagh along the callan river . I am seeing references to them as the Gillis mills built by John Gass in 1836. I've googled my little heart out. Any ideas why Mr. gass built them but they were called Gillis. 

I'm also planning a trip to this area in spring of 2019. I'm planning on going to that area and to st. salvator church where some of these folks were buried. I understand the PRONI in belfast is a must and i plan on going to the lisbon linen mill museum in libson.

Any other ideas?




Sunday 19th August 2018, 09:46PM

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  • Sidnie,

    There were a large number of mills in Ulster, so it’s not easy to trace the ones you are interested in. Do you know which townland(s) your ancestors  had their mills? I may then be able to trace a little history about them. I have looked in Griffiths Valuation for 1864 at 3 townlands along the Callan river – Aghinlig, Keenaghan and Borough of Charlemont but don’t see any mills there at all.

    The town where the linen museum is located is Lisburn, nor Lisbon. See:

    If going to PRONI take your passport as photographic id is required to get your readers ticket. (Just takes 2 minutes).

    You ask for other ideas. Can you be more specific about what you are looking for? Do you want some general suggestions for tourist sights in and around Armagh or something else?


    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 19th August 2018, 11:31PM
  • Load the PRONI Historic Maps Website and look to just north of Armagh city and then select the 3rd Edition Map (1900-1907) and look for the Railway Station - adjacent to this is "Gillis Mills (Linen)".

    I dont see the Callan river on the map, but apparently it flows close to the city.

    edited : I think located the river Callan passing nearby at Geary's Bridge to the north west

    shanew147, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 20th August 2018, 08:56AM
  • Much obliged to Shane for finding that. Here’s a reference to John Gass of “ Gillis and Lisanally” going bankrupt in 1869.

    Gillis here looks to be a place name rather than a person, though I could be wrong.

    Griffiths Valuation for 1864 for the townland of Corporation lists John Gass as being the occupant (but not outright owner) of the lands on plot 3 which were a “House, offices, weaving shed, beetling mill & land.” Offices in this context just means outbuildings.

    If you want to see a beetling mill that still works, the National Trust has one at Wellbrook, outside Cookstown. It’s a museum now and worth a visit if you are interested in the history of linen making. Open Saturdays & Sundays and bank holidays. It’s the only beetling mill left in Ireland open to the public.


    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 20th August 2018, 09:36AM