CREGG MILLS

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Cregg Mill is a converted 18th-century watermill in the townland of Cregg, near Corrandulla village in County Galway. It is situated on the banks of the Cregg River, a tributary of the Clare River. The mill has a rich and fascinating history, as it serviced the local area, including neighbouring Cregg Castle, and served as a feeding centre for the poor of Corrandulla during the Great Famine.

Cregg Mill was built around 1780 by the St. George family, who owned Cregg Castle and much of the surrounding land. The St. Georges were a prominent Anglo-Irish family who settled in Galway in the 17th century and became influential landlords and politicians. They built Cregg Castle in 1648 as a fortified mansion, and later added a Gothic-style extension in the early 19th century. The castle was surrounded by a large estate that included farms, woods, gardens and a mill.

The mill was originally used to grind corn for the castle and the local tenants. It was powered by a large waterwheel that was fed by a mill race from the Cregg River. The mill had two pairs of millstones, one for grinding wheat and one for grinding oats. The wheat flour was used to make bread for the castle, while the oatmeal was used to make porridge and oatcakes for the tenants and the poor.

The mill also had a kiln for drying the grain before grinding, and a bolter for sifting the flour. The bolter was a wooden cylinder covered with cloth of different degrees of fineness, which rotated on an axis and separated the flour into different grades. The finest flour was called “white flour” or “household flour”, and was reserved for the castle. The coarser flour was called “seconds” or “middlings”, and was sold or given to the tenants. The bran, or outer layer of the grain, was used as animal feed or fertilizer.

The miller who operated the mill lived in a house attached to the mill building. He was responsible for maintaining the machinery, regulating the water flow, weighing and measuring the grain and flour, and collecting the fees or rents from the customers. The miller was also a trusted agent of the landlord, and often acted as a mediator between him and the tenants.

The Great Famine was a period of mass starvation and disease that afflicted Ireland between 1845 and 1852. It was caused by a potato blight that destroyed the main crop that sustained millions of people, especially the poor. The famine resulted in an estimated one million deaths and another million emigrations, reducing Ireland’s population by about 25%.

During this time of crisis, Cregg Mill played an important role in providing relief to the starving people of Corrandulla and nearby areas. The mill was used as a feeding centre where soup and bread were distributed to hundreds of people every day. The soup was made from Indian meal (imported cornmeal) mixed with water, salt and sometimes milk or meat. The bread was made from wheat flour mixed with Indian meal or oatmeal.

The feeding centre at Cregg Mill was funded by local subscriptions and donations from charitable organisations such as the British Relief Association and the Quakers. It was managed by a committee of local gentry, clergy and farmers, who supervised the purchase, storage and distribution of food. The committee also employed staff to cook, serve and clean at the centre.

The feeding centre at Cregg Mill operated from 1846 to 1849, when it closed due to lack of funds and supplies. It is estimated that it fed about 600 people per day at its peak, saving many lives from starvation and disease. However, it also faced many challenges and difficulties, such as overcrowding, theft, fraud, corruption, violence and vandalism.

After the famine, Cregg Mill continued to function as a corn mill until the early 20th century, when it became obsolete due to competition from modern mills and railways. The mill also played a role in the War of Independence and the Civil War, as it was used as a hideout and a meeting place by local rebels and IRA members.

Today, Cregg Mill is a private residence that has been lovingly restored and renovated by its owners. The mill retains many of its original features, such as the waterwheel, the millstones, the machinery and the millrace. The mill is surrounded by beautiful gardens and woodlands that border the Cregg River, creating a tranquil and scenic setting. It’s not open to the public but it can be seen by the roadside or with the owner’s permission.

LOCATION

53.386945, -8.972703

Cregg Mills

GALLERY

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