the Loughaconeera Lime Kiln dates back to the 1930s and is one of the few surviving examples of its kind in West Galway. A lime kiln is a structure that was used to produce lime by burning limestone at high temperatures. Lime was a valuable commodity in the past, as it was used for various purposes such as fertilizing the land, making mortar and plaster, whitewashing buildings, tanning leather, and disinfecting wounds.
Lime kilns were common in rural Ireland, especially in areas where limestone was abundant or could be imported from nearby islands. However, most of them have fallen into ruin or have been demolished over time, as lime production became obsolete with the advent of modern technology and cheaper alternatives.
The Loughaconeera Kiln is a rare exception, as it has been preserved by the descendants of the original builder, who still own the land where it stands. It is a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of the local people who used it to improve their livelihoods and cope with the harsh conditions of the land.
The Loughaconeera Kiln was built by the grandfather of the current landowner in the 1930s, using local stone and clay. It has a cylindrical shape with a conical top and a circular opening at the bottom, where the fire was lit. The limestone was brought from the Aran Islands by boat and loaded into the kiln through a hole at the top. The fire was kept burning for several days, until the limestone was reduced to quicklime, which was then collected from the bottom opening and stored in barrels or sacks.
The Loughaconeera Kiln is located near a small lake, which provided water for cooling and slaking the quicklime. Slaking is a process that involves adding water to quicklime, which causes it to heat up and crumble into a fine powder called hydrated lime or slaked lime. This powder was then spread on the fields as fertilizer, or mixed with sand and water to make mortar or plaster.
The Loughaconeera Kiln was used until the 1950s, when it became uneconomical and impractical to continue operating it. It was then abandoned and left to decay, until it was restored by the landowner’s son in 2010, with the help of a local heritage group. The restoration involved clearing out the debris, repairing the cracks, repointing the joints, and replacing some of the stones that had fallen off.
The Loughaconeera Kiln is open to visitors who are interested in learning more about its history and function. It is located near the village of Kilkieran, on the Wild Atlantic Way, a scenic coastal route that showcases some of Ireland’s most stunning landscapes and attractions.
The kiln is situated on private property, so you will need to ask for the landowner’s permission before entering. The Loughaconeera Kiln is not only a remarkable piece of industrial heritage, but also a beautiful sight to behold. It stands out against the backdrop of green fields, blue sky, and sparkling water, creating a striking contrast between old and new, natural and man-made. It is well worth a visit if you are in Connemara and want to experience a slice of Irish history and culture.
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