Lime kilns of the harbour

A lime kiln is a structure that uses heat to break down limestone rock into limestone powder. The kiln sites that remain in the harbor are based on a similar design and probably date back to the mid-18th century. Most of these kilns are double kilns, meaning they have two separate fire chambers. This design helps with the burning process, as the heat from the first burn is retained by the brick and stone, which aids in a more efficient burn in the next chamber. There are two examples of triple kilns that I am aware of.
Double kiln at Jack Meades, 1 of 2 on the property

The kilns are sited close to water, as the limestone which was burned, was generally ferried by river.  In the Suir and Barrow, the boats used to carry the stone were termed Lighters.  These had a three man crew; one held the tiller and two pushed the flat bottomed craft
along using poles.  The crew also loaded and unloaded the craft.

second double at Jack Meades.  Note: appears as if it was initially
constructed as a single, and a second was added.
An internal view of the firing chamber

A double kiln then, would have two firing chambers.  Chambers were egg shaped, with the top cut off.  The chamber was loaded with a charge initially – something flammable such as furze or very dry timber which would get the fire going.  Onto this the layers of limestone were added with an extra layer of firing material to keep the chamber burning (three to five layers of stone to one layer of firing material).  The fuel could be more timber but also used was coal slack or calum.  The fire was lit from the base through a draw hole.  As the lime was burned down by the heat in the chamber it was drawn off through these holes.

A draw hole at the base, for lighting and controlling the fire, and
drawing off the lime powder
Double at Cheekpoint, below the lower quay
photo by Brendan Grogan

There could be more than one draw hole, which seems to have been a technique to avoid
ash being mixed with the lime. It also allowed more air into the chamber.  I imagine these holes could be blocked if required to adjust the burning. The Lime was drawn off into barrels or carts for delivery to farms or homes.

Triple at Woodstown

Lime had a variety of uses and these could include spreading on grass for fertiliser, whitewashing houses, building material, cleaning wells, used in dry toilets and probably many others.

A lime kiln at Dunmore harbour early 1900’s
photo courtesy of Tommy Deegan WHG

In recent weeks I’ve tried to catalogue the kilns that are/were in the Gaultier area.  Starting at Jack Meades and working my way around.  This is what I could locate, with the help of the OSI Historic Maps.

Double x 2 Lime Kilns at Jack Meades, both photographed
a triple below Jack Meades pill, on private property
a single at Faithlegg, again on private property
a double at Cheekpoint, photographed
a triple at Woodstown, photographed
a single (based on the OSI maps/open to correction) at Dunmore.  Since demolished.

I haven’t sourced any others in the area.  Its surprising to find nothing in or around Passage East,, and again west of Dunmore.  Any corrections or further information gratefully received. Thanks to Brendan Grogan, Tommy Deegan, Waterford History Group and Michael Farrell of the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society for assistance.

Previously, I wrote two pieces about the local kilns in the Cheekpoint area
Part I:
Part II:

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