The Mills of Clondalkin

Oil & Gunpowder Mills, Corkagh

The gunpowder mills on Corkagh Estate, active during the 18th and 19th centuries, were regarded as a nationally important centre for the production of gunpowder and provided employment for many local people. The reasonably intact remains of four gunpowder mills are to be found in Kilmatead, along with two mill ponds. Some of the other buildings in the Kilmatead complex were possibly also mills as it was estimated that there were about nine powder mills in the area altogether. The remains of another gunpowder mill and mill pond are to be found at the southern edge of the park boundary bordering Kilmatead. Gunpowder milling in the Clondalkin area seems to have been carried on from 1716 until the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815.

In 1733 the production of gunpowder ceased temporarily in Clondalkin as a result of an explosion. This was a relatively common occurrence with the manufacturing of gunpowder. It was a hazardous process which required a site to be sufficiently large and isolated from populated areas. The mill buildings were often situated at a distance from each other to prevent chain reaction type explosions from taking place. Furthermore, access to a water supply was required to provide the energy needed to operate the mills. The River Camac provided this energy source.

The gunpowder milling operations in the Clondalkin area were operated by several people over the years, including Nicholas Grueber from 1716 to 1733 and the Arabin family in the 1790s. Other notable powder mill owners and manufacturers in the Clondalkin a rea included William Caldbeck, who had a powder mill operating on the River Camac located close to the present day Mill Shopping Centre in the village, and Richard Chaigneau.

At the other end of Corkagh Park is an are a known as Fairview where the remains of a corn mill and an oil mill can be seen. The corn mill is recorded as being ruinous in 1663. It was a small flour mill which would have been used to grind grain for local consumption. The oil mill is recorded in Griffith's Valuation of the 1850s and was occupied by a Peter McNally and a Joseph Henry Esquire. The complex is described as including a house, offices, yard, oil-mill, pond and small garden. The oil mill produced linseed oil which was extracted from the s eed of the flax plant. Oil and corn mills are marked on the Ordnance Plan of the Parish of Clondalkin, 1870, in each case labelled as 'Old'.

Clondalkin Paper Mill

There were also paper mills located in Clondalkin village. They were established in the early 19th century by Thomas Seery and Son on a site beside the Camac River leased to them by William Caldbeck. The clean, fresh water of the Camac was ideal for paper making and the mill thrived. It changed hands many times over the years and in 1913 it was bought by the Becker Company who owned paper mills all over the world. Business boomed during the First World War as all British mills had switched to war production. However, after the war, the market went downhill and the mill closed in 1922. In 1936, however, it re-opened under the name 'Condalkin Paper Mill'. Business was good until general economic circumstances lead to its final closure in 1987.

previousPrevious - Swift Brook Presentation Part 3
Next - The Mills of Palmerstownnext