As early as the 1400s there was a small community where Mountmellick is located now, in a bend of the river Owenass. The foundation of the town we see today was laid by members of the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. In 1659 William Edmundson settled in Mountmellick along with other recent converts.

Mountmellick experienced a boom in 1836 when a branch of the Grand Canal linked Portarlington to Harbour Street, Mountmellick. Passenger boats brought in shoppers, while merchant boats distributed beer, textiles and other Mountmellick wares throughout Ireland.

Mountmellick thrived as a centre of national historic importance in cultural, economic, political and social terms. In the subsequent pages it will be demonstrated how Mountmellick contributed enormously to the development of Irish life and Irish society, thus deservedly earning the title "The Manchester of Ireland."

Today, visitors to Mountmellick can follow its walking Heritage Trail, which is signposted throughout the town. A fine community-run museum displays examples of Mountmellick Lace, along with other information about Mountmellick.

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