RINNEEN FLOUR MILL

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The Rinneen Flour Mill is an impressive structure that was built in 1804 by the Vicomte de Basterot, and is a former tidal flour mill that was once part of a larger industrial complex. The Flour Mill is located near the village of Kinvara, on the south-eastern shore of Galway Bay. It is situated on the banks of the Rinneen River, which flows into the bay through a narrow inlet. The mill was designed to harness the power of the tide, which would fill a large reservoir behind a weir. The water would then be released through a sluice gate, turning a waterwheel that powered the mill machinery.

The mill was built by Bernard-Anselme d’Espagnac de Basterot, also known as the Vicomte de Basterot, who was a French aristocrat and landowner in Ireland. He inherited several estates in Galway from his uncle, Dominick d’Arcy, who was one of the “Wild Geese” – Irish Jacobites who fled to France after the Williamite War. The Vicomte de Basterot was an enlightened and progressive landlord, who improved the living conditions of his tenants and introduced new agricultural methods and crops. He also had a keen interest in architecture and engineering, and commissioned several buildings and projects on his lands, including the Rinneen Flour Mill.

The mill is a two-bay three-storey building with a slate roof and stone walls. It has a rectangular plan with a projecting gable at the south end, where the waterwheel was located. The wheel was made of iron and wood, and had a diameter of about 6 metres. It was connected to a horizontal shaft that ran through the building, driving two pairs of millstones on each floor. The millstones were used to grind wheat and oats into flour, which was then stored in sacks or barrels in the loft.

The mill also had an attached kiln, where the grain was dried before grinding. The kiln was circular in shape and had a corbelled roof that resembled a medieval beehive hut. It was heated by burning turf or coal, which was fed through an opening at the top. The grain was spread on a perforated floor above the fire, and hot air circulated through the kiln, drying the grain evenly.

The Rinneen Flour Mill was one of the largest and most advanced mills in Galway at the time. It supplied flour to the local market as well as to other parts of Ireland and abroad. It also provided employment and income for many people in the area, who worked as millers, labourers, carters or merchants. The mill operated until the early 20th century, when it became obsolete due to competition from steam-powered mills and railways.

Today, the Rinneen Flour Mill is a protected structure and a valuable part of Galway’s industrial heritage. It is owned by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and managed by Galway County Council. It is not open to the public, but it can be viewed from outside or from across the river. It is also part of the Kinvara Heritage Trail, which features several other historic sites and attractions in the village.

The Rinneen Flour Mill is a testament to the vision and skill of its builder, the Vicomte de Basterot, who left a lasting legacy in Galway. It is also a reminder of the importance of flour milling in Ireland’s history and economy, and of the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its workers.

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53.152328, -9.007361

Rinneen Flour Mill

GALLERY

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