The building known as the “Old Mill” was built by Arthur De Moleyns over the years 1865-1879, for use as a sawmill. The De Moleyns family first came to Ireland as butchers to the army of Cromwell. The name of the family was known as Mullins, but they changed that name to De Moleyns in 1844. They were created Barons Ventry.
This sawmill was to be worked by waterpower. Extensive use was made of waterpower to work mills up and down the country around this period, the 19th century. To obtain water for this mill Farrentoreen lake was used as a reservoir. A channel was cut from this lake crossing Langford Street and passing through the timberyard now known as Boyle’s and then by the back of the former Church of Ireland building. The water was then carried across Annadale Road by a metal aqueduct. This aqueduct was dismantled in 1970. In order to obtain a permanent and sure supply of water for his natural reservoir, De Moleyns had a channel cut from Cottoners River. The river was tapped at a point downstream from Poul a Botasin, but later had to be moved further upstream. The channel passed through Coshow crossing the road at Barry’s Cross, through Coommafanada, Garrahadue, crossing the Glounaguilagh to Killorglin road beside the farm of Charlie O’Brien of Rangue.
Now all was ready for the great day, the opening of the floodgate at Farrentoreen. An eye-witness account related “I was present the first day the water was turned on at the mill. The machinery was set in motion. A workman put a log of wood against the saw, and it stopped. I looked at De Moleyn and he went pale”. It certainly was a great shock to the man after all his planning and work.
A steam engine was then installed, and a tall brick chimney was built to carry the smoke from the firebox. This tall brick chimney was very conspicuous until it was demolished by a steeplejack in the early 1960s. Sometime in the 1880s the sawing of timber was moved to the present timber yard now owned by the Boyles.
The Old Mill, a four-story building, was subsequently used for the storage of grain. In 1920 Killorglin had only two of its one-time five granaries in operation. Besides the Old Mill, the other granary was situated in the right-hand side of Coocan na Coapal and owned by the McCrohan family. This year 1920 was known as “the year of the Black and Tans”. They were garrisoned in Killarney, and they were ordered to proceed to Killorglin and to burn the property of I.R.A. activists. A strong detachment left Killarney in Crossley tenders with instructions to burn the first mill on the right as they entered the town. The main road from Killarney to Killorglin was impassable to motorized traffic because of trenches dug by the I.R.A. The Black and Tans changed their route as a consequence and crossed the Laune bridge into Beaufort and approached Killorglin by way of Meanus and finally Annadale Road. They carried out their orders by burning the first mill on the right-hand side of the street – the Old Mill.
The Mill was rebuilt in 1924. It must be noted that, although the mill was destroyed by fire, the outer structure remained intact. This means that the walls of the building are the original ones as built from the foundation.
In 1938 the O’Donoghues set up a bakery and confection business which carried on until 1965. For many years the “Temperance Society” used the second floor of the mill as its headquarters. The third floor, at street level, had a billiard room in which there were tables, a table tennis room and a card room. The fourth floor was taken over by the Local Defence Force (L.D.F.) and Local Security Force (L.S.F.) during 1953 and used as a drill hall. Later the second floor became an auctioneer’s showroom and furniture auctions were held there. After the formation of the Laune Ranger Piper’s Band in Killorglin in 1944, it used the second floor of the Mill.
When Killorglin’s Market was the local means of disposing of agricultural produce, the first floor of the Mill was used as a mart, and eggs and butter were sold there. For many Christmases turkeys were bought, killed, plucked and packed there. Later on, the first floor became a dance hall, and later still, in 1943, a garage.
The basement of the Mill was used for a time as a theatre and was used by variety companies and strolling players for many productions. In 1954 mussel canning was begun by the Castlemaine Harbour Co-operative on the ground floor, and was carried on for some time.
The present owner of the building is Mr Aidan Forde, Killarney, who has plans to establish a distillery there.