The days of wind-driven corn mills

By Dan Walsh

Found myself in the Carne area during the week. Featured on RTE’s popular ‘Reeling in the Years’ for the controversial protests against the proposal to construct a nuclear power station at Carnsore Point at the end of the 1970s.

It will be 42 years ago next Wednesday, (August 19th 1978), when over 5,000 people took part in an anti-nuclear rally and festival at Carnsore Point. The government of the day, subsequently, called off the project and to this day, Ireland is nuclear free!

When all of those ‘celebrities to be’ and environmental activists were in this area I wonder did any of them discover the past? Like I did when passing through Tacumshane on the way to Our Lady’s Island – that most curious of landmarks -Tacumshane Windmill.

TACUMSHANE WINDMILL receiving a course of restoration

As recent as 1891 there were thirteen wind-driven corn mills at work along the south coast of Co. Wexford. The number was down to five by 1911, one of these being Tacumshane Windmill, restored under the care of the Irish Board of Works.

Although built in the mid-19th century, (1846 is carved on the lintel over the eastern doorway on the interior), Tacumshane closely resembles the original 16th century type of a three-storey tower mill.

The end of milling and corn drying came in 1961 and the last miller was Michael ‘Mike’ Power from Sigginstown and Hilltown, born in 1902 and he also worked in other mills in the district in his young days.

Tacumshane is unique amongst surviving windmills and is regarded to have links more closely with windmills in Brittany, western France, Portugal and Spain rather than mainstream developments in the Netherlands and eastern England.

CREDITS; Tacumshin Windmill – its history and mode of operation, compiled by Austin O’Sullivan, based on a short article by Liam de Paor, first published anonymously in issue 12 of the Office of Public Works journal Oibre in 1976.  

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