South Leitrim and in particular the areas of Mohill and Gortletteragh celebrated its industrial heritage last Thursday with the opening of the newly renovated Farnaught Lime Kiln on the grounds of the Lough Rynn estate.
The kiln, which was originally built in the middle of the 19th century was eventually shut down in the 1950s after approximately one hundred years of use. The facility was one of the last of its kind to function in Ireland when it was eventually closed over 60 years ago.
Costing in the region of €233,000 and restored largely by local craftsmen, the project was described by acting Leitrim County Council CEO Katrina Murphy as; “a milestone project which pays respect to the people who originally built the kiln and to those who worked here.” Addressing the crowd in front of the cavernous vault of the kiln, Ms Murphy said the restoration work “showed significant development and progress in what could be described as Leitrim’s industrial heritage.”
Also present to assist at the launch was Paddy O’Rourke, Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council who encouraged those in attendance to promote south Leitrim and the kiln to those who visit the area. He enthused: “The best possible marketing tool is that of word of mouth. People go to websites, they lift brochures. But how much do they read and take with them? There are a lot of people from south Leitrim spread around Ireland and across the world.
“To you in attendance, I would say to talk about this. It is the most effective marketing tool. Tell everyone you know about the Farnaught Lime Kiln. Don’t visit south Leitrim without visiting the Farnaught Kiln.”
The restoration of the kiln took less than twelve months. Work began in May 2014 and was completed just last month. From a derelict building choked by overgrown vegetation to its beautifully restored state, the kiln is something for locals to really be proud of.
The recovery process was overseen by Sligo based architect Lewis J Rhatigan and Project Engineer Brendan McKenna. Stone Mason Sean Moffitt, from Dromod worked on restoring the stone work and also repaired the building’s roof.
Following the official opening, at Lough Rynn Hotel, Dr Jason Bolton gave a lecture on the heritage and history of the kiln both in Ireland and the one at Farnaught. Dr Bolton, a Conservation Scientist who previously worked on the old Carrick-on-Shannon Court House - now The Dock - has also studied archeological sites at Ballinamore, Stralongford, Gubnaveagh and Sliabh an Iarainn.
Dr Bolton emphasised the importance of the lime kilns both locally and nationwide in the construction of buildings both across the country and on the Lough Rynn estate.
He spoke about how Geo-Tourism is now an emerging market and how visitors to this region are now spoilt when it comes to hertiage sites such as the lime kiln. Other sites include the Marble Arch Caves in County Fermanagh, the Burren Park in County Cavan and Glenade Lake, Eagles Rock and Sliabh an Iarainn here in County Leitrim.
This project is the latest addition to Leitrim’s heritage tourism product portfolio, as well as a milestone development for the Border Uplands Project, which is just one of many tourism developments being delivered by Leitrim County Council, Cavan County Council, Fermanagh District Council and Sligo County Council and led by the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN).