Ballylee Mill is a small corn mill that dates back to the late 18th century. Ballylee Mill is located near the famous Thoor Ballylee tower house, which was once the home of Nobel Prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats. 

Ballylee Mill was built around 1790 by the Burke family, who were descendants of the Anglo-Norman de Burgo clan that settled in Ireland in the 12th century. The mill was used to grind corn for local farmers and villagers, and was powered by a water wheel that drew water from the nearby river. The mill was also connected to a kiln, where the corn was dried before milling.

The mill operated until the early 20th century, when it fell into disuse and decay. In 1916, Yeats bought Thoor Ballylee, a 15th or 16th century tower house that stood next to the mill, and renovated it as his summer home. He was inspired by the beauty and history of the place, and wrote some of his most famous poems there, such as “The Tower” and “The Winding Stair”. 

In 1928, Yeats donated Thoor Ballylee and Ballylee Mill to the Irish state, hoping that they would be preserved as national monuments. However, due to lack of funds and maintenance, both buildings suffered from flooding, vandalism and neglect over the years. In 1965, a group of local enthusiasts formed the Kiltartan Society to restore and reopen Thoor Ballylee as a museum dedicated to Yeats and his works. 

In its heyday, the mill would have consisted of three floors: the ground floor, where the water wheel and machinery are located; the first floor, where the millstones and hoppers are located; and the second floor, where the grain bins and sacks are located. It was connected to the kiln and Thoor Ballylee by a wooden bridge.

Today, Ballylee Mill lies in ruin and not currently open to visitors, but it can be viewed by the roadside, and there are future plans by the local Yeat’s Society to restore the mill, funding permitting. 


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Ballylee Mill



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