09 Dec 2021

Latest book unearths new material on historical Kenagh

Local historian Paddy Egan is about to launch his latest instalment on the history and culture of Co Longford.

Local historian Paddy Egan is about to launch his latest instalment on the history and culture of Co Longford.

This latest publication centres around Mosstown Mill and the big house, both of which hold major historical significance in the village of Kenagh.

The book is aptly titled ‘Mosstown – The Mill & The Dynasties’ and will be officially launched at El Paso, Kenagh on Friday June 1 next at 9pm. Guest speaker on the night will be Frank Higgins, son of the late Co Engineer, Dick Higgins and descendent of the Higgins Family who were major shareholders in Mosstown Mill.

Speaking to the Leader Mr Egan said that the idea for the book came about as he considered the 100th anniversary this year of the burning of the Mill in Mosstown.

“There was never anything written about the burning of the Mill, so I felt that it was time to record it,” he mused.

“The Mill burned down around the time that the Titanic sank and it was more significant to the people in Kenagh than the sinking of the Titanic was. There was religious and political unrest at the time and when Fr Donahoe tried to revive the fate of the Mill, Bishop Hoare reprimanded him for mixing with protestants.”

Mosstown Mill burned to the ground on February 29, 1912. It was the lifeblood of local people because so many were employed there, and farmers from across the county supplied it with grain and other agricultural produce.

It served the needs of the community through the provision of flour, wheaten meal, oatmeal, animal feeds, bran, pollard and brusk.

The Mill’s owners were regarded as decent people to work for and it brought great prosperity to an area that would otherwise have experienced great hardship.

“The history of Mosstown estate goes back almost one thousand years when, and according to local tradition, a man by the name of O’Farrell was rewarded with lands in south Longford after the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 AD,” Mr Egan explained.

“The book itself is the story of triumph and tragedy, a place where deaths were frequent and often at a young age ... like the Gosselin brothers, the Kingstone Murrays and more especially the fifteen children of Arthur Johnston Kingstone, all of whom died, three by tragic drownings.

“Mosstown House was a place where the spirits of good and evil appeared to haunt the occupants of the big house on a regular basis, where tragedy and bad luck overshadowed an ambitious, highly motivated and respected dynasty over four hundred years.”

Mr Egan’s research has unearthed lots of new material on the area, much of which was sourced in Canada.

The owners of Mosstown Mill emigrated to Canada in 1933 with the intention of setting up a saw mill and when digging began for the construction of the saw mill, they stumbled upon salt, an extremely valuable commodity at the time, and subsequently succeeded in establishing a state of the art salt mill.

“In Canada, the Kingstones ran the salt mill for over 80 years and they were also responsible for spreading the Methodist faith there are as well.

“Mosstown Mill was the biggest building in Co Longford before the Cathedral in Longford town was built and was producing vast amounts of food up until 1840,” Mr Egan concluded.

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