Woodford is a small town in County Galway, situated on the banks of the Woodford River, a tributary of the Shannon River, which flows through the town and forms a scenic artificial lake called Woodford Bay. The lake was created in the 17th century by damming the river with a stone weir, which was originally built to power a blast furnace for iron smelting. The weir also served as a source of energy for a corn mill and electric lighting for the town in later years. The weir is one of the most notable industrial heritage features in Woodford, and has been restored in 1980 to preserve its historic character and function.

The stone weir in Woodford dates back to the 18th century, when it was constructed by the Eyre family, who owned large estates in the area. The Eyre family were involved in iron mining and smelting, and built a blast furnace near the river to produce pig iron from local ore. The furnace required a large amount of water to operate, and the stone weir was built to divert and regulate the flow of the river. The weir also created a reservoir of water that could be used for other purposes, such as milling and fishing.

The blast furnace operated until the early 19th century, when it became unprofitable due to competition from cheaper imported iron. The furnace was dismantled, but the weir remained in use for other industries. In the 19th century, a corn mill was built on the site of the former furnace, and used the water from the weir to power its machinery. The mill produced flour and animal feed from local crops, and was an important source of income and employment for the town.

In the early 20th century, the weir was also used to generate electricity for the town. A small hydroelectric plant was installed on the mill site, and used the water from the weir to produce electric power. The plant supplied electricity for street lighting and domestic use, making Woodford one of the first towns in Ireland to have electric lighting. The plant operated until the 1950s, when it was replaced by the national grid.

The stone weir in Woodford suffered from neglect and deterioration over time, and was in danger of collapsing. In 1980, a restoration project was undertaken by the local community, with support from Galway County Council and other agencies. The project involved repairing and reinforcing the stone structure, clearing debris and vegetation from the river channel, and installing fish passes to allow salmon and trout to migrate upstream. The project also improved public access to the weir and its surroundings, by creating footpaths, bridges, picnic areas, and information boards.

The restoration project was successful in preserving and enhancing the historic and aesthetic value of the weir, as well as its ecological and recreational benefits. The weir is now a popular attraction for visitors and locals alike, who can enjoy its scenic views, wildlife, fishing, boating, and walking opportunities. The weir is also a reminder of the rich industrial heritage of Woodford, and its role in shaping the town’s history and culture.


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Woodford Stone Weir



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