Dripsey Mills

For about 200 years there has been a succession of mills in Dripsey, a paper mill, two cheese factories and a woollen mill which remained active until 1983.

In 1784, Dripsey Paper Mills was started by Batt Sullivan, and under him became one of the most famous in Ireland. Batt Sullivan had studied French papermaking, as they were the most advanced in Europe. He developed those methods at Dripsey, which became known for its fine quality paper. Treasury Bills and Bank Notes for the Bank of England were made at the mills.

In 1812, the mill covered six acres of ground – three of the acres were of buildings, passages and houses, and the other three were taken up by the mill pond. The number employed in the mills was 400. Many of these would have been carters of rags, which was the raw material. Rags were brought from the quays in Cork, having been imported from London, Liverpool and Belfast. Many of the mill workers lived in a small village which grew up around the mill, called Blackpool, which stretched for about three-quarters of a mile and which consisted of sixty mud cabins and some stone houses. The remains of the stones can still be seen. After many years of being bought and sold, the mills were finally closed in 1864.

However, many years later, during World War I, Peggy, a daughter of the Bowen-Colthurst family, who at that time lived in Dripsey Castle, built a cheese factory in some of the buildings of the old paper mills. But this was closed in 1921, because her brother ordered three men, including Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, to be executed, and personally shot a teenage boy, during the start of the Easter Rising in the Irish fight for Independence.

Also in Dripsey there has been a woollen mill in existence for over a century. Before that it was a flour mill. It was bought by Andrew O’Shaughnessy in 1903. The family still run it today.

High quality woollen goods such as cellular blankets, bed-spreads and ladies and gents tweeds are made. These are exported to the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

As with the paper mills, a village grew by the mills, as more mill-workers came to the area. There are now about 70 houses in this village which has the unusual name of the “Model Village”.

The Dripsey Mill buildings are still there, in the shadow of the Castle, and the Mill pond, which used to drive the machinery in the Mill is now home to various ducks and swans, although the pond is seriously silted up.