Abbey Mill is an abandoned corn mill near the village of Abbeyknockmoy in Galway. The mill, built around 1830, was once a vital part of the local economy and community, but now lies in ruins, overgrown by vegetation and forgotten by many. However, if you are willing to explore its remains, you will discover a fascinating piece of industrial heritage that tells a story of the past.

Abbey Mill was built on the site of a former Cistercian abbey, founded in 1189 by Cathal O’Connor, the king of Connacht. The abbey was one of the largest and most influential monastic settlements in the region, and was known for its agricultural and artistic achievements. The abbey was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1541, and its lands were confiscated and granted to various English settlers. The abbey buildings were gradually dismantled and reused for other purposes, such as a castle, a church and a mill.

The mill was probably established in the late 18th or early 19th century, as part of the agricultural improvement schemes promoted by the landlords of the area. The mill was used to grind corn into flour for local consumption and export. It was powered by water from the Abbert River, which flowed through a mill race that diverted water from the main channel. The mill had two pairs of millstones, one for grinding wheat and one for grinding oats. The mill also had a kiln for drying the grain before milling.

The mill was operated by several families over the years, such as the Lynches, the Mannions and the Kellys. It provided employment and income for many people in the vicinity, as well as a social hub where farmers could meet and exchange news. The mill also had a role in the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921), when it was used as a hiding place for weapons and ammunition by the local IRA volunteers.

The mill ceased to function in the 1940s, due to the decline of rural population and the introduction of modern milling methods. The mill was abandoned and left to decay, becoming a relic of a bygone era. Today, Abbey Mill is a protected structure under the National Monuments Act, and is listed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. It is also part of the Abbeyknockmoy Heritage Trail, which includes other historic sites such as the abbey ruins, the church and graveyard, and the holy well.

The mill is located on a private land, but can be accessed with permission from the owner. It is not advisable to enter the mill building, as it is unsafe and unstable. However, you can still admire its exterior features and appreciate its architectural and technical significance.

Some of the elements that you can observe include:

– The mill race, which is a stone-lined channel that carried water from the river to the mill wheel. The mill race is about 300 meters long and has several sluice gates that controlled the flow of water.
– The mill wheel, which is a large iron wheel that was attached to a wooden axle. The wheel was about 5 meters in diameter and had 48 buckets that caught water from the mill race. The wheel rotated horizontally and transferred power to the mill machinery through a series of gears and belts.
– The mill gearing, which is a set of cast-iron gears that connected the wheel axle to the millstones. The gearing consisted of three main parts: a pit wheel, a wallower and a spur wheel. The pit wheel was fixed to the wheel axle and meshed with the wallower, which was mounted on a vertical shaft. The wallower then drove the spur wheel, which turned another vertical shaft that powered the millstones.
– The millstones, which are two pairs of circular stones that ground the grain into flour. The stones were enclosed in wooden cases called hoppers, which fed grain into the center of the stones. The lower stone was fixed to the floor, while the upper stone was attached to the vertical shaft and rotated above it. The gap between the stones could be adjusted to produce different grades of flour.
– The mill kiln, which is a brick structure that dried the grain before milling. The kiln had a fire chamber at its base, where peat or coal was burned to create heat. The heat rose through perforated tiles that supported a layer of grain on top. The grain was spread evenly on the tiles and stirred occasionally to prevent scorching.


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Abbey Mill



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