MILL WALL: The mill road amenity area is located just north of The Square beyond the bridge. The wall has several stone placards describing in detail the history of milling in Durrow.
MILLING: The grinding of corn for flour has always been an activity of the greatest importance to mankind in the provision of human and animal foodstuffs.
From the late bronze age (1200bc – 600bc) corn was ground by hand by using Quera Stones of various types. Quera Stones continued to be used until the invention of the vertical water wheel which was probably introduced into this country by the Normans and the Cistericans in the late 12th Century.
MILLING IN DURROW: The earliest mills in Durrow were built in the late 1500’s on the river Erkina north of the Square. At that time the street there was called Mill St. The remains of the buildings (Mill, Maulting House & Brewery) and Mill Race can still be seen there. In 1714, after the death of Anthony Rauger the old miller Thos Ansley acquired the tenancy of the mills at £24 per annum. These mills closed in 1751 in the face of competition from the more powerful mill that had been built a mile downstream at the course. The mill at the course was probably built between 1680 and 1700. The building stood about 80 feet high with 5 floors and 40 windows in the front wall. The mill yard had a grain store and various other buildings. Building mills such as this had an annual productive capacity of up to 12,000 barrels of flour. 5 weir gates dammed the river to feed the mill. Rall which was cut stone, 5’ width, 5’6” in depth and 60’ from the river opening to the mill wheel which was 18’ in diameter.
The millers that operated the mill were: Wm Lawerson (1747 – 1768); George Bailton (1768 – 1798); David Wm Delaney (1798 – 1855); The Mercier Family (1855 – 1927).
On March 15th 1897 David Mercier Jr. was killed while trying to free the wheel, which had become stuck with ice. After the death of Ernest Mercier in 1927 the mill was taken over by the Durrow Co-Operative Society until it eventually closed in 1937.
The roof and interior were stripped in 1946 and its gradual decline into ruin began. This historical information was compiled from a variety of sources including:
“Laois and Environmental History” by John Feehan
“An Historical and Social Diary of Durrow” by Edward O’Brien.