A mill and a memory

Belgooly Mill, Co. Cork
Panasonic LX1, 1/400 sec, f4, -0.3 EV, ISO 80, 28mm equivalent (click to enlarge)

In the town where I did most of my growing up (still a long way to go mind), there was a flour mill that was perhaps the main local employer. I was fascinated with the place, especially since I was told that the flour went from there to McVities biscuits, you know those staple accompaniments to a nice cup of tea, the mighty Digestive and the slightly more humble Rich Tea. I suppose my imagination was doing a little over-time and created for me a Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factoryesque picture of magnificent white powdery mountains and huge deadly grinding cogs and wheels. I even got to go on a tour – a nearby neighbour worked there and took me one day – it was quite dark and very dusty and not surprisingly there was a lot of noise and a lot of urm … flour. In fact there was flour everywhere, including, by the time we had finished, a liberal dusting upon me and my dog (who was surprisingly allowed to accompany me).

It was a sad day then when the mill closed – if there’s anything left of it today it would just be a sorry looking pile of concrete and rusty corrugated iron.

It’s amazing how memories are forgotten and buried somewhere in the filing cabinet at the back of your head, only for them to resurface at unexpected moments. Such was the case when we passed by this old mill in Belgooly, Co. Cork recently. I know nothing about this place – except that it reminded me of the perhaps more friendly mill I mention above. Looking at the photo now it reminds me of the line in William Blake’s hymn Jerusalem:

“And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?”

If only those old crumbling walls could talk…

5 Responses to “A mill and a memory”

  1. Evening Reverend,
    I enjoyed this. Your post was suggested at the end of one of mine (Earth and Old Stone: Failures and Successes in Collective Memory). I think Blake was referring to the textile mills that enslaved women and children and tore from English peasantry a livelihood their families had stewarded for centuries. Still, this is an ominous photo and a beautiful. Nice job. I tend to write long, but I could have read much more about this from you.


  2. This mill has recently been lit up at night timer and had the front wall(s) blown up as part of a training excercise by the army back in the 1950/60s.. After it was a flour mill it had a second life as a distillery for a time.. Visit Coleman’s pub to look att he ol dpictures of the mill/distillery, etc… Enjoy the pint there also!!


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