Tales from historic Kilcarbery

By Dan Walsh

Road closure measures have been enacted by Wexford County Council following the destruction of Kilcarbery Bridge during the infamous Christmas Day flooding episode which also damaged properties in the area.

The final road bridge on the River Boro on its way to the Slaney, Kilcarbery has a long and distinguished industrial history and the old mill buildings are prominent landmarks in a valley near Enniscorthy.

Flood damage at Kilcarbery Bridge over the River Boro.
Part of the stone parapet crashed into the river.

The earliest known history of Kilcarbery Mills is that they existed as far back as 1610 and belonged to the Sparrow family. Before Thomas Sparrow died in 1837 the property were purchased by Francis Davis who reorganised the property and commenced an expansion programme.

In 1826, a double wing was added, six stories high used for flour dressing and further extensions took place in 1855, but the prominent square stone-built edifice with the immortal stone tablet inscription ‘F.D. 1875’ completed a complex of milling activity.

When the Davis family moved its milling operations to Enniscorthy the Mills were sold to the committee of Enniscorthy Asylum (later St. Senan’s Hospital) in the late 1890’s and supplied electricity until the Electricity Supply Board took over in the 1930s. The Kilcarbery water powered turbines produced voltage carried across the River Slaney to supply power.

Later Kilcarbery Mills were rented to Col. Lofus Bryan of Borrmount Manor and a successful tobacco rehandling station operated until the Department of Agriculture ordered the suspension in 1939.

In 1945 the Davis name was back in Kilcarbery when the property was sold by Wexford County Council and it was used by the Co. Wexford Beekeepers Co-Operative Society at a time when four fifths of Ireland’s honey supply was produced in Co. Wexford who had 600 beekeepers at the time.

Kilcarbery Mills is privately owned and is a great landmark with an amazing industrial past. And the adjoining River Boro was once a haven for local anglers with seasonal quantities of salmon and trout caught and cooked to feed families in poor times.

Part of the original Kilcarbery Bridge is visibly as floods decimate the structure in the Christmas Day floods.

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