Lime Kilns – A silent killer

Halfway House has one of the most densely populated sites of Lime Kilns that I know of.  Its location on the tidal Pill was crucial. Kilns were built to produce quicklime which had a variety of uses in agriculture and rural living in the 18th & 19th centuries. The operation of the kilns was a tough, physical task, but it could also be deadly as one young woman found to her cost at Halfway House.

What is a Lime Kiln?

A lime kiln is a structure used to break down limestone rock using heat, to create quicklime powder.  Or for the calcination of limestone (calcium carbonate) to produce calcium oxide. The chemical equation for this reaction is CaCO3 + heat → CaO + CO2.  The kilns sites we have remaining in the harbour are based on a similar design and probably date from the mid 18th century.   Each kiln is of a relatively uniform size 25-30 ton capacity.  The type we have can be described as “Draw Kilns”.  There are a number of single burning kilns, but at Half Way House double kilns are in evidence, ie two separate fire chambers, which assisted the burning process, as the heat from the first burn was retained by the brick and stone, which aided a more efficient burn in the next chamber.  There is also a triple nearby that I am aware of.

Why site them close to water?

The kilns are sited close to water, as the limestone which was burned, was generally ferried by the river.  The lime was quarried from Grannagh in South Kilkenny and from there it would journey around the harbour and along the rivers and tributaries on 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 or used large oars called sweeps.  The crew also loaded and unloaded the craft and were paid by the ton load, back-breaking work it must be said.

A lighter in operation in New Ross
A lighter in operation in New Ross. Photo courtesy of Myles Courtney.

As we saw previously, the Pill is tidal up to the Bridge and could also be dammed by the sluice gate on the old salt water mill.  Once above the sluice, the Lighters would have been able to navigate with their loads (30 tons was an average load from what I have read) beaching them as close to the kilns as possible.

Dating the kilns

One of the earliest maps I have of the area, the Richards & Scales map of 1764 shows the Salt Mill but very little else on the Pill or stream.  I can’t say that it is 100% accurate, but with such a large number of kilns, it is perhaps strange that they were omitted if they were then on the Pill.  I also reread the account of the visit of Arthur Young. A Tour in Ireland, with general observations on the present state of that kingdom in 1776–78.  Young only mentions kilns in an offhand manner, and then to say the Waterford is producing slat in pans placed over the lime kilns.  What it suggests to me is that the kilns were commonplace, but frustratingly there is no clue of where these kilns are located. 

My hunch is that the kilns date from this era.  Young stayed with the Boltons at Ballycanvan during his stay, landlords of the area.  Cornelius Bolton Jnr showed him around the estate and Young is complimentary of their tenure seeing them as progressive landlords, open to scientific methods and productive land management.  The lands are mixed with cattle, dairy, and arable including barley, corn, and oats.  Cornelius would later go on to build a new house at Faithlegg (now the hotel) and use his influence as MP to draw further investment to the area.  What I can say for certain is that the kilns were shown on the first of our historic map series, and elsewhere in this account you will see an advert highlighting that the kilns were in operation (or at least some of them were) in 1824.

A very high tide at the Pill, gives an insight into how accessible the kilns etc were in previous times and when the pill was no doubt less silted and overgrown
Operation of the Kilns

A kiln to all intents and purposes is an oven.  The oven is within the overall structure and is called a chamber, basically 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 (generally fist-sized to allow the fire and heat to rise, but not so big that it would not be heated through) 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 coal or coal slack (Calum) was also used – another material transported by water. 

The fire was lit from the base through an eye or draw hole.  The draw holes also allowed more air in if required or could be blocked to slow the burning down.  Once lit the fire had to be monitored and controlled,  A burn could take two or three days and the lime had to cool before being drawn off.

The draw hole and distinctive arch will often catch even a casual observer’s eye.

The burnt lime was drawn out of the chamber and if required some stone could be broken up before being barrelled or loaded into carts to be delivered to farms or homes. 

Although there are several single kilns in the area the visible kilns at Halfway House are double Kilns.  Doubles were more efficient as the heat from one burn, stayed in the stone building,  A second chamber was thus already heated up which meant that the process was more efficient.  As one burned a second could be prepared.  There is also a triple kiln on the Pill, more efficient again.

Uses of Lime 

Although quick lime has a variety of uses, I think we can assume that the principal use of the kilns at Halfway House was as an agricultural fertiliser.  It was(is) used for acidic soils and can improve the root system of grass and plants.  It has a good benefit in milk production and also allows arable crops to absorb more nutrients. 

That said, lime had a variety of other uses in the past, and growing up the use of limewash on buildings gave Irish dwelling houses, outbuildings, and walls their traditional white appearance.  Lime has been used in buildings since the time of the Egyptians, and lime mortar and lime plastering were used up to relatively modern times in the building trade.  Indeed it still is used in traditional building renovations and enhancements and apparently is making a comeback for example in eco-building and sustainable construction, along with the advent of new materials such as hempcrete walling

I remember my grandmother’s brother Paddy Moran using lime to clean a well on the strand close to Moran’s Poles.  Whenever it got tainted by saltwater Paddy would clean it out (usually it happened on high tides and leaves, seaweed, etc would get into it) and then put lime atop the water which was left until it had settled into the bottom and the water was crystal clear again. 

My grandmother used it as a way of neutralising the smell when she emptied the dry toilet in the dung heap.  I also heard of it being spread of corpses after mass burials – for example as a way of controlling plague.  Although I was surprised to read, that the quicklime doesn’t actually help in the decaying process, rather it neutralises the smell, which is obviously a plus when you consider the smell of rotting and decomposing bodies!

Dangers associated with the kilns

Now speaking of bodies, Lime Kilns were decidedly dangerous to be around.  While burning, the structures emitted noxious fumes which were prone to overcoming the inattentive. Another issue was that the sides of the chamber were of necessity smooth, in order that the burned lime would drop down to the base.  If you were unfortunate to fall in, there was no way to extricate yourself. 

A casual look at the local newspapers of the early 19th Century reveals a catalogue of countrywide accidents associated with them.  For example in May 1824 a stranger was found dead beside a burning kiln at Carlow, having been drawn to the heat at night.  While asleep he inhaled the fumes and was suffocated.  Three children were burnt to a cinder when they fell into a kiln in Kilgarvan Co Kerry in September 1829.  Earlier that year two Tipperary farmers (a father and son) died in a kiln after they tried to rescue a pig that had fallen in.  The father tried and became overcome, his son leaped into his aid.  The incidents were so common it was chilling.  Tramps tried to heat themselves at night, others tried to cook potatoes beside them, while for others it was just an attempt to dry themselves or find shelter.  And unfortunately, the kilns at Jack Meades proved fatal too.

this is the first of three short videos depicting the working of a kiln – highlights the back-breaking nature, the challenges and the dangers very clearly

The Waterford Mail of Saturday 10 April 1830; page 4 had this account: “Wednesday evening, an inquest was held at Halfway-house (midway between this city and Passage) Mr. Sherin, coroner.  The body of Catherine Colbert which was found on the preceding morning in a lime kiln, a verdict returned of ‘ died by suffocation’ It supposed that she was intoxicated on Monday and had fallen into a small river adjoining and that she went on the kiln for the purpose of drying her clothes (her petticoat being found on the top of the kiln) and by some accident fell in, and the kiln being only partly filled and partially lighted, she was suffocated by the noxious steam. No marks of violence were found on the body”  A very sad account, and I have not heard of the surname in the area.

Kilns caused death in other ways too.  The Waterford Mail of 1825 for example related that at the Carlow Azzies Michael Forrester was found guilty of murder and sentenced to execution after he had thrown John Carey into a burning lime kiln.

Perhaps not surprisingly people were cautious about the location of kilns.  For example at the Waterford City Sessions in July 1828 a case was taken by several inhabitants of William Street and surrounding neighbourhoods against a newly erected lime kiln worked by Nicholas Devereux.  They argued that it should be removed because it was within 100 feet of the centre of the road, contrary to the express words of and act governing such buildings (71st section of the 31st Geo. HI. chap. 71) The court found that their case was just, but judgement was held over.  I don’t know their exact concerns but the court later ruled that the act was not a deterrent to these particular lime kilns.

And of course, for others, the kilns were a positive as this ad for the Halfway House area highlights.

An advert for land, using the location of the Kilns as a positive selling point.
Source: Waterford Mail – Saturday 20 November 1824; page 1

We will conclude our online tour of Halfway House this coming Friday. It will showcase my favorite heritage building in the area; the commercial Ice House.

I have set up a dedicated page for Water Heritage Day this year. I will gather all the elements of the Halfway House story there and any links etc to the day. I also have a link to this event on the Heritage Week website which includes a link for a walk on Water Heritage Day on Sunday 22nd. Booking through eventbrite is essential.

This year’s event is again supported by the Local Authorities Waters Programme.

Halfway House and Jack Meades Pub

Halfway House

For this year’s Heritage Week event, and specifically Water Heritage Day I wanted to showcase a unique water-related site at the popular bar and restaurant known now as Jack Meades, but previously it was more commonly called Halfway House.  Over the next few Fridays, I will focus on some of the aspects of the site in the context of the historic role of the stream, Ballycanvan Pill, and the River Suir.  In this post I want to look at the location and the pub. 

Introduction

Water plays a crucial role in all our lives.  However, in previous generations, it had an added importance related to transport. Ships plied the ocean waves carrying freight and passengers around the globe, the rivers were a vital infrastructure allowing goods to be carried from and to inland locations that could take many days and significant expense to journey by poor and limited roadway.  I believe it was in this era that the placename “Halfway House” was born and the location originated; a halfway point from Waterford City to the busy shipping stop-off point that was Passage East and later Cheekpoint. 

Geography of the site

Halfway House is situated at a crossing point of Ballycanvan stream and Pill.  A Pill is a common enough word locally, originating in Norman times I understand and generally referring to a tidal stream.  The Pill is tidal (ie the river rises and falls to that point) up to the bridge, a fresh water stream lies above this and it must have been an ancient fording point of the stream. 

A sense of the location – OSI Historic Maps

The main road between Cheekpoint and Waterford comes through the site, but in the past it was also a roadway from Passage and Crooke to the city, joining the main road at Carraiglea and what we locally call Strongbows Bridge.  The current Passage and Crooke Road crosses over the bridge now at the site but that’s a more recent development,

Boundary sign from 1980 on the city side of the bridge. Authors Photo.

The site also marks three distinctive administrative boundaries.    As you cross the stream towards the city you leave the county boundary and enter the city.  It also marks the meeting of three District Electoral Divisions (DED’s) Faithlegg, Ballymaclode and Woodstown.  Within this it is also subdivided into six townlands, all of which converge at the crossing; Ballycanvan, Ballynaboola, Ballyvoreen, Ballymaclode, Ballygunnertemple, and Cross.  It was/is also surrounded by several large houses including Ballycanvan, Woodlands, Brooke Lodge, Mount Druid, and Blenheim.

Interestingly, the area was once commonly referred to as Alwyardstown, Baile an Adhlar Taigh – a historic reference to the first Norman-era landlord who ruled from Faithlegg an area of about 6000 acres that stretched from Cheekpoint and Passage to Ballytruckle in the city. Authors Photo

Irelands only Flyover Pub!

Before we leave the geographic description, it is worth explaining the bridge that currently stands as a means of travelling towards Passage East. You see the bridge is a relatively new construct (circa 1860) and it was built at a time when a local business family, the Malcomsons (of Portlaw milling and Waterford ship owning and shipbuilding fame), were trying to gather investors to build a railway line to Passage East to take time off the journey from the city to Milford Haven. The plan failed, although the bridge was built, although the use of rail was later successfully implemented when in 1906 the SW Wexford rail line was built to connect the city with Rosslare and via ferry to Fishguard.

Passage East – Days of Sail and Cheekpoint and the Mail Packet

The place name of Halfway House is a common enough one.  According to my Oxford Dictionary, the term Halfway House has four meanings in the modern sense but perhaps the oldest and more historical based is a midpoint between two towns.  In this case, it’s a mid-point between Waterford city and initially the busy stop off point for shipping at Passage East and later Cheekpoint. 

A busy scene at Passage East in the late 18th century via BGHS http://gaultierhistoricalsociety.blogspot.com/2014/

Passage East was historically and administratively part of Waterford city, primarily in my opinion, because it was central to shipping.  Passage was the point where ships could relatively easily sail to; beyond Passage the river narrows, sailing was more difficult and so before the coming of steam power Passage was a much more accessible spot to anchor. 

Ships entering port could anchor relatively safely between Passage and Ballyhack.  There the customs could check on cargo and ensure the appropriate rates were applied.  Ships could be emptied by the Lighters and a myriad number of trades could be employed in looking after the ship’s needs.  Horse-drawn traffic would have abounded including carriages, carts, joulters, jarveys and so many other horse-driven transports. Passengers and goods would have been transported both to and from the area.  At a later point when the official Mail Packet Service was established at Cheekpoint in 1787, trade would have flourished to the village. 

As a consequence, these horse-drawn transports would have required a stop-off point.  The freshwater stream would have looked after the horses needs.  The pub would have catered for the men! On Redmond’s Hill, a forge operated by a family of the same name operated within living memory and it must have had a good market given the level of trade that would have passed the door. The site also had a shop, a post office and there were a great number of homes for those employed either in the big houses, the farms or in the businesses around the area.

Jack Meades Pub/ Halfway House

Over the door, on the way into the old bar at Jack Meades it states that the pub was founded in 1705.  It was recorded in November 1710, that one Jenkin Richards leased the Inn from William Harrison who lived at the time at Ballycanvan House. Richards was said to lease “the house commonly called or known by the name of “Halfway House”

The door to the old pub. Authors Photo.
Jack Meades Pub or Halfway House. Andrew Doherty

James Guest, (how’s that for a landlords name) and his son John were running the pub in 1721 and the family lived on the premises. The last of the family recorded were the brothers Robert and James Guest who dropped their lease in the 1770’s.  In the mid 19th Century,  1857 to be exact, the landlord of the pub was John Curtain.  When Curtain died, his daughter Elizabeth Meade took over.  Her son Thomas Meade was next to inherit, passing it on in turn to his son John, commonly called Jack. Jack ran it up to the 1970s at which point it passed to his own daughter Carmel. Carmel and her husband Willie Hartley run it still, although it has grown in size in the intervening period, and their son Liam runs the busy food part of the business.

It’s had a difficult time over the last two years as they have tried to survive financially during the Covid 19 pandemic, but it’s interesting to think that it survived the earlier Cholera outbreaks, the famine, and the Spanish flu. 

The site of course has many other water related features, and these I will explore over the new few weeks in the run into National Heritage Week 2021 and specifically Water Heritage Day on Sunday 22nd August 2021.  My original plan was to do a booklet of these pieces of information to be available for a guided walk on the site. However, due to my Covid concerns, this is still not a certainty. I might opt for an online presentation instead. This work will be supported by the Local Authority Waters Programme.

Next week – the two agricultural water-powered corn mills on the site, their design, operation, and the relevance of the stream and the tidal Pill in their operation.

Overcoming Ophelia and Brian

As my regulars now know, I launched my first book last Friday 20th October.  Called Before the Tide Went Out it tells my own story from my earliest memories into my childhood recollections of the village of Cheekpoint and the fisherfolk that made up my world.  I bring you fishing in my teens and early adult years and share the magic and misery as I went from salmon driftnetting to eel fishing and herring driftnetting. As tough as I thought the life was, it was nothing compared to writing it all down, and that in turn was painless compared to getting it ready for publication.  But of course in the run up to actually launching it, we had the most powerful storm to ever hit the country followed up by our first winter storm.  Ophelia and Brian nearly up-scuppered the lot.
Damien McLellan, myself and Tomás Sullivan, who both were crucial in the project
Photo via Eoin Nevins

At this point I imagine the ex hurricane Ophelia is known worldwide. The run up was alarming with weather warnings, ships and fishing boats running for cover and a national emergency being declared.  Monday 16th October started bright and fine, and initially the hopes was that the storm would skirt the west coast and leave us alone, if with a lot of egg on face. But alas by 11am we were feeling its first effects here, which was about low water in the harbour…always a change with the tides!  We were delighted when Joel, our son, returned from fishing just about the same time. They had gone to Woodstown to try protect the Oyster crop, but the wind had prevented the tide from dropping to its normal level…another bad sign.

My new Book “Before the Tide Went Out” 
International orders can be made here.
Find out where you can buy off the shelf or order from Ireland here
By 12 noon the trees were bending over dramatically and the river was as wild and frenzied as I can ever recall…and then it just got worse. Yet we escaped the worst of the damage as roofs blew off, tress came down and electricity and telephones went dead.  The government were vindicated in their advice of shutting all schools, restricting transport and advising workplaces to close early…that of course also included my printer, Lettertec in Cork.
On the Tuesday, the clean up started and the extent of the damage was realised. Schools remained closed and many businesses were unable to re-open, being cut off by trees or starved of the essentials such as water or power to run, Lettertec being one of them!  We received an email from my namesake Andrew Haworth telling us he would be in contact as soon as he knew anything.
By Wednesday we were panicking.  Cheking the ESB faults map gave no reassurance.  It estimated it could be Saturday 21st before the power was restored to the printers.  Family friends in the Cork area were without power too…life was tough. We tried ringing but to no avail, a follow up email went unanswered.  Should we cancel?  Two days to go, how long does it take to print 500 books?  How likely is it that the power will be restored.  Wednesday night an email arrived at 8pm.  Power was restored at the factory, a personal guarantee that the books would be done and ready for collection on the following afternoon, Thursday 19th.
My daughter#1 holding the first copy

The trip to Lettertec was a trial with driving rain and flooded roads.  But the feeling of holding your first book was some thrill.  Of course the problem then was trying to ensure you sold them, or at least enough to cover the costs and pay back the credit union loan.  The launch was the essential part we were told, and at least now we could look forward.

Liam Hartley at Jack Meades had offered the use of the pub free of charge as a way of saying thanks for the many blogs I had written previously highlighting the heritage value of the place. Dylan Bible and Amanda Farady had offered their services freely too. So we had a venue and entertainment. Damien Tiernan of RTE had agreed to make the keynote, a man who knows a lot about the water and the communities that depend on it.  We had our posters out, it was covered in that weeks Munster Express thanks to journalist Kieran Foley and Fintan Walsh. Jean and Paul at Waterford in your Pocket added it to the weekends event guide. And the reaction of facebook and twitter was amazing.  It seemed nothing could stop us now.

            
Buy the book online if you live outside of Ireland.

Irish orders or clarifications via russianside@gmail.com

The Book is now available to buy off the shelf in the following shops

Ardkeen Quality Food Store Waterford

Book Centre – Waterford

Book Centre – Wexford

Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarraig, Co Wexford

Nolans Bookshop, New Ross, Co Wexford

Powers shop Cheekpoint

Readers Choice, Dungarvan

                                              More outlets coming soon

But the forecast on Thursday evening has a weather warning, storm Brian.  Friday 20th was a busy day, I was up at 5am as there was a blog to get out and then of course the last minute jobs.  By 3pm I was starting to flag, unfortunately the storm was doing the opposite.  Outside the wind started to howl and the rain started to come down hard.  And then the messages started to arrive, messages of apology! The weather was too bad to travel. People were really disappointed, and it was totally understandable if not the safe thing to do.  I even wondered was it fair to go ahead. By 6pm my mood and energy was on the floor, but Deena dragged me out the door.  “The show”, she said, “must go on”.

At about 7pm what felt like the final nail in my coffin, was a text from Damien Tiernan. A flood was expected in Clonmel and Damien was going live to report for the 9 o’Clock RTE News.  He had to cancel, sorry about that etc. He had warned me it was possible before he ever took it on.  Deep down I was gutted, but I had to be fair, he has a job to do.  So I dug deep and sent him an understanding text.  Seconds later he replied with a “got ya!”  I could have killed him, but was too relieved.
Me with Michael Farrell Barony of Gaultier Historical Society wishing me well

And then the door started to open and people flooded in.  So many I became over-whelmed…not then, but now as I am writing this.  People I knew all my life, people like my neighbour Bridgid Power, 92 our eldest resident in the village now. My old schoolmates from Faithlegg Brendan Foley and Michael Duffin, William and Ger Doherty.  People like Michael Farrell of the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society who would walk through a block wall for you.  And people who I don’t even know except from the blog, people such as John Myler who came along with his family and who up to then I only knew through the social media world.  To be honest the time was brief with little opportunity to properly speak with people and soon it was time for our very capable, and village elder in his own right to call the evening to order, Tommy Sullivan.  

Tommy Sullivan MC on the night
A very dapper Damien Tiernan entertains the crowd


Damien brought the house down with his talk.  It was everything I had imagined it would be.  He spoke of our traditions, the characters, the nicknames, the inter-village rivalry and the desolation that not being able to fish creates.  But he also spoke of the importance of working together, of digging deep, and of trying to rise above the naysayers, individuals who go out of their way to undermine and destroy those who try their best to achieve something positive.

my God Mother, Elsie, my cousin Michael ‘Spud’ Murphy and my Mother Mary

Ray McGrath stood in for Noel McDonagh and spoke on behalf of the SE FLAG who had agreed to provide a percentage of funds towards the printing costs, and my dear friend Damien McLellan said a few words on the editing process, underlining the fact that we all need support in realising our dreams.

Deena and daughter #2 doing the hard work behind the scenes
I’m not sure if Ophelia or Brian were sent to test my resolve or just to underline the struggles I had to overcome in being a young fisherman.  Nature is something I admire, respect and am humbled by.  But fishermen can’t allow weather to dictate their lives.  Except maybe a hurricane!
I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at russianside@gmail.com to receive the blog every week.
My Facebook and Twitter pages are more contemporary and reflect not just heritage 
and history but the daily happenings in our beautiful harbour:  
F https://www.facebook.com/whtidesntales  T https://twitter.com/tidesntales

Jack Meades heritage ramble

Jack Meades pub and restaurant has got to be one of the more remarkable and intriguing 18th Century agricultural sites in the country.  As a young man I hadn’t much time for the older men who drank there, preferring to spend my time having the craic and the beer with my own generation. But at my present age, and with my interest in our local heritage, I often rue the opportunities I would have had to ask the older people about the buildings that litter the area, all within a stones throw of the pub.
  
The pub itself is fascinating, dating as it has since 1705. I’ve written about its landlords and the lineage of the present owners before. You’ve got to have respect for those who have managed to sustain and transform a business in the countryside when so much has changed in our attitudes as a country to drinking and driving. Part of that business is to protect and allow access to a varied amount of heritage related buildings which we went along to see on our most recent free bank holiday Monday rambles.
Standing outside the main door to the pub
Photo Michael Farrell
The pub of course is synonymous with its location beside the old Railway bridge of the Malcomsons, in their attempt to run a rail line between the city and Passage East.  It earns the pub the distinction of Ireland’s only fly over bridge.  But of course it has a number of bridges on the site, as at least one, and perhaps two others allow the Ballycanvan stream to flow under the Cheekpoint Road that itself passes under the main structure.
The Bridge and pub looking towards Cheekpoint
Photo Michael Farrell
Across the road we stood beside the old Delehunty corn mill and discussed its amazing design features including an overshot wheel within the building and the man made leat that runs from Brook Lodge, from where the water to run the mill was released via a man made pond.  It was wonderful to have a relation of the Delehuntys that ran the mill all those years ago present, but sad too as he reminded us of the tragedy at the pond when his relation and two young companions drowned while swimming there.
I need to tie my hands to my body I’m afraid!
At least I wasn’t waving a stick this time.
Delehuntys Mill Photo by John O’ Sullivan

The Ice House of course is an impressive structure, which I have also discussed before.  We looked at its design, the supply of ice and the likely purpose it was put to. Then it was along to the Lime Kilns down the Pill, and a discussion about the process of lime burning, how the lime stone was brought and the likely uses of the finished product.  I got a surprised reaction from many when I related how the lime was used to treat the waste from a dry toilet, something I had seen myself at my grans in the 1980’s. Just as well Carmel, a relation from England, didn’t mention to all but myself and a few within earshot of how it was used over corpses, particularly in times of plague.

The Ice House above and one of the double Lime Kilns on the site
Photo Michael Farrell
We then discussed the old salt water mill that resides on private lands down towards the mouth of the Pill, and how in the past, in a way similar to the monks at Dunbrody, the incoming tide was retained behind sluice gates only to be released when the tide below the mill was lower and gravity allowed the mill wheel to be turned by the water returning to its source.
We rambled up to look back on Ballymaclode Castle and discuss her twin tower at Ballycanvan that later became a fine Georgian mansion of the same name.  And returning to the pub we passed off Redmonds forge where in the past not along horses were shod, but implements of farm works and fishermen were repaired or made.
The walk was recorded for posterity by Paul from Waterford in your Pocket, and it gives a real sense of the day and the walk.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rGIQ1KYaKI
Our next event will be the June Bank Holiday Monday, commencing at 11am at Faithlegg House Hotel and will look at the history surrounding the Faithlegg estate. I’m only hoping the spirit and enthusiasm of those who came yesterday is repeated. Delighted to see familiar faces, and great to meet many new ones too. Young and old seemed to enjoy it, and the questions and the comments were all helpful in my own learning. A young lad from sixth class in Faithlegg was at my side through the walk, and he has an obvious eye for his local heritage. For Facebook users we have an event page here which we will use to keep people updated on the Faithlegg heritage ramble .
I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at russianside@gmail.com to receive the blog every week.
My Facebook and Twitter pages are more contemporary and reflect not just heritage 
and history but the daily happenings in our beautiful harbour:  
F https://www.facebook.com/whtidesntales  T https://twitter.com/tidesntales

Lime kilns of the harbour

A lime kiln is a structure used to break-down limestone rock using heat,
into limestone powder. The kilns sites we have remaining in the harbour are based on a similar
design and probably date from the mid 18th century.  Most are double kilns, ie two separate fire
chambers, which assisted the burning process, as the heat from the first burn
was retained by the brick and stone, which aided a more efficient burn in the
next chamber.  We have two examples of the triple 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.  Photographed

Here’s an interesting account/reenactment of the lime burning in action. No job for the faint hearted

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: http://russianside.blogspot.ie/2014/05/limekilns-in-cheekpoint-faithlegg-area.html
Part II: http://russianside.blogspot.ie/2014/05/limekilns-in-cheekpoint-faithlegg-area_23.html

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