Greyson’s Lime Kiln Belleek

Destroyed in the name of Progress.

 

Local residents were stunned to put it mildly, to see, as dawn was breaking on Monday morning 9th November a mechanical digger starting to demolish Greyson’s limekiln, which was situated near the Kesh road on the outskirts of the village in the town land of Rathmore. One hoist from the jib and steel bucket was enough to damage the structure beyond repair. Many words have been used by the locals this past week to describe their feeling about the wanton destruction of one of the most important historic structures in the pottery village. Outrage, anger, hurt, disbelief and rage that a listed structure could be wiped from history in seconds. The actual owners of the Lime Kiln were the people of the area, they were not informed by its custodians or consulted that it was to be destroyed.

 

For generations the Greyson family were prominent in the area as farmers and business people. It is very doubtful if there is to be found anywhere in Ireland a lime kiln similar to the one at Belleek, it was a large commercial kiln with the limestone being taken from the adjoining quarry. For generations it supplied the lime to improve the quality of the land. It was used to white wash the homes of people in the area. The walls of the traditional Irish home were plastered inside and outside with lime mortar long before the invention of cement. One of the last acts carried out by local families as they left their home land to seek a better life in the New World, was to remove a small piece of the white washed plaster from the walls and take this with them, often on the notorious Coffin Ships after eviction from their cabins by ruthless landlords.

 

The nearby St. Patrick’s Church was built with stone from Greyson’s quarry; the lime was mixed with sand to build the walls. Now there is nothing left only an empty space with nothing to mark the spot. Senior citizens of the area recall their school days and how as the made their way to and from the Commons school they could admire the Kiln and watch its fire burning the lime stone. There were so many uses for the lime apart from treating the land and building walls. Before the coming of piped water, the spring wells that supplied the needs of the people were drained and cleaned out several time a year and purified with lime.

 

Next to the Village Pump and drinking trough on the Main Street, Greyson’s lime kiln was the most important structure in the area. About 25 years ago during the reconstruction of the village side paths the Village Pump was actually seen to be slung for the jib of a J.C.B. digger. Fast action by a local resident, which included a number of frantic phone calls to people with knowledge of preserving our historical artefacts, ensured that the Pump and Trough remained where they belonged rather than in some far off place never to be seen again by local people. By starting the destruction of Greyson’s Lime Kiln just as dawn was breaking on a Monday morning it was ensured that there was no stopping of the work before it was damaged beyond repair.

 

Most of the members of the Clogher Historical Society who reside locally have expressed their sadness and disappointment at the loss of the structure. For they more than anyone else appreciate that the aims of the society is the preservation of our history and heritage. It would not have been a major job to make the structure secure, safe and preserved for future generations.

 

Claims have been made that the structure was dangerous and liable to collapse, when one thinks that it took a large digger almost a week to completely demolish the kiln, this argument does not stand up to scrutiny. As one past pupil of the Commons school pointed out, generations of children had passed by it for 130 years and none ever interfered with it of got hurt playing near it. Local publications on Belleek village contain articles on Greyson’s Lime Kiln and photographs of the structure. Now all we have left are our memories and a few faded pictures.