The Mills of Tallaght

Bolbrook Paper Mill

The Bolbrook Mill was operated by a mill-race taken from the Dodder at Kiltipper and supplemented by the stream from Tallaght. In 1760, Pierce Archibald, a carpenter, built a couple of two vat mills here, and employed about 30, but two years later the whole place with house and offices was destroyed by fire at a loss of 2,000, They were soon rebuilt and a staff of 50 employed. The mill is marked on Rocque's map of 1760.

In Archers survey of 1801 the owner is given as Widow Archibald. It was later let to J.Williamson whose name appears in Malet's report of 1844, and in the directories up until 1849. Five years later it was let by Anne Archibald to Messrs. Batter and Co. which was later changed to Batter and Boardman and subsequently to Thomas Boardman. In 1875 the name Adam Boardman appears and in 1893 Robert Boardman who occupied the mill until 1904. Four years later it was described as vacant and dilapidated. The buildings were later used as a farm.

This portion of Tallaght townland was formerly known as Newtown and this place was sometimes referred to as Newtown Mill. The site of the mill was on the open ground between the Tallaght bypass and the Dodder, now occupied by Bolbrook Estate.

According to Hancock by this point the water was polluted and unfit for use as a drinking supply for the city ?the river here joins the city water-course. The citizens are fortunate that they are not now dependent on it, for it is so polluted by the paper-making that it has become poisonous, and cattle and horses have died from drinking it. Sometimes it is the same colour as porter'.

Tallaght Village

Beside the site of Tallaght castle is a culvert under the road which conveyed the millrace from the Priory grounds southward towards the Dodder. This course lay along the side of where the Lidl supermarket now stands. About a hundred yards downstream from the road the water passed between two high narrow walls which marked the site of the Archbishop's corn mill. This was described by O'Curry in 1837 as the smallest and oldest he ever saw with two pairs of stones capable of grinding about four barrels of wheat per day. This section of the watercourse was piped underground about 1982.

The mill was operated by an overshot wheel five feet in diameter and two feet nine inches wide, and the fall of the water was eleven feet. Archer's survey of 1801 gives the name of the miller as Newman, and the Dublin Directories give the name of Michael Mahon up until 1849. It does not appear to have been in operation after this, and was in ruins in 1871. This mill-stream was conveyed across the fields to Bolbrook Paper Mill where on account of its purity it was used in the manufacture of paper.

Old Bawn Mills

Some time shortly before 1800 Oldbawn House was bought by Mr. Joseph McDonnell who built an extensive paper mill on an adjoining site. The north wing of the old house was completely gutted of internal features from ground floor to attic and incorporated into the mill. The windows were broken into large vertical openings and fitted with latticework to admit plenty of air for drying out the paper.

The McDonnell family occupied the rest of the house and continued to operate the mill until about 1878 when it had to close down due to foreign competition. Several of the Dublin newspapers were supplied from here.

Kiltipper Parchment Mills

The millrace which supplied the Oldbawn Mills was taken from the Dodder at Kiltipper. This race existed before the middle of the eighteenth century and probably much earlier, as there is a large watermill shown at Oldbawn on the Down Survey map of 1655.

The uppermost mill on this race was a parchment mill at Kiltipper. According to the Cobbe Estate rentals of about 1816 this was described as a farmhouse and good slated skin mill held by George Johnston, and a note is added that it was since burned down.

Domville Handcock wrote that 'a little below Friarstown is a weir, formerly made of loose stones and sods, requiring renewal after every flood. This diverts most of the river into a mill-race, which for some distance follows its course under the left bank. Here are the remains of what was called the parchment-mill. Hardly a trace of it exists. The water which supplied it must have been taken from the Ballinascorney stream. This stands high above the millrace, which is carried along in a very rude channel, full of leaks and overflows, staunched, as occasion requires, with sods and boards. When a flood came down, the weir was swept away, and all the mills below to Fir-House left idle, until it was repaired.'

It was in ruins in 1837. According to Healy some slight remains of the Kiltipper mill survive 'a high bank, over the Dodder with the track of the millrace adjoining' He said that even allowing for the fact that the bed of the river has been deepened considerably in the last two centuries it is difficult to see how the water from the Dodder was raised to this height and there may be something in the suggestion made by Handcock that when this mill was operating the water was taken from the Bailymaice or Ballynascorney streams.

There were also mills at Bawnville, Friarstown and Haarlem Paper Mills.


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