Cos. Tyrone, Donegal, Londonderry & Fermanagh Ireland Genealogy Research

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On Flax & Bleach Greens

Transcribed by Teena

Some years back, the Linen Board gave premiums for the Encouragement of flax-feed of Irish growth; the practice of sowing Irish seed, however, has been discontinued, for reasons known to the growers, who must be certainly well acquainted with the difference between foreign feed, and that of Irish growth; nor is it likely, that they would prefer paying such high prices for foreign feed, if they found the Irish growth to answer the main end, which is that of having the good quality of the flax in view. I do not know of any scheme, that could tend to encourage the linen trade, more than that of saving of fuel in bleaching. The quantity of turf, that is annually used in the county, is most astonishing. I am surprised, that some enterprising bleacher, before this time, has not taken a hint from Count Rumford's system, which could not fail in answering the desired end.

In some bleach-greens, upwards of 10,000 kishes of turf are annually consumed, or an area, at least equal to 11,000 cubical yards, of made up fuel, fit for consumption. At the Linen-hall, in Dublin, an apparatus is set up for the saving of fuel. Sixty kishes of turf is a reasonable allowance for a cottier, so that one bleach-green consumes as much fuel as 166 cots. This is a furious confederation, and should be an object worthy of the attention of all those concerned. I make no doubt, but furnaces, properly constructed, might save four-fifths of the fuel consumed at present.

List of Bleach-Greens
The following established Bleach-greens will serve to show the present state of the
Linen Manufacture in the County.
Names of Bleachers
Places of abode
William Shaw
Castle Caulfield, near Dungannon.
James Guaherty
Duffin and Co.
Thomas Rodman
William Grier
Thomas Grier
Robert Grier
Redford, near Dungannon
John Grier
John Wilcock
John Wilcock
near Cookstown
(2 of them)
Cook _
near Cookstown
James Grier
near Cook's-town
Thomas Grier Jun.
near Cook's-town
J. Patterson
near Cook's-town
James Cook
near Cook's-town
John Kenny
near Cook's-town
William Anderson,
near Cook's-town
A. Stewart
Brown & Sloane
Thomas Grier & Co.
William Pike
Purcel _
Brookfield near Dunngannon
Jackson & Eyre
Blackwatertown (They have 2 more bleach-greens

adjoining in the county of Armagh)
John Chambers
Smiley _
Quin _
at Duglass-bridge below Newtown-stewart
Sproule _

With some others, now establishing, or in contemplation of being shortly set on foot. My information, with respect to the bleach-greens about Dungannon and Cook'stown, was from Mr. Wilcock of Dungannon, an eminent bleacher. Some bleach on their own account; that is, they buy the linen cloth. Others bleach for the country, at so much a yard; but the greater number bleach for themselves, and for others. There are still many eligible situations in the county for bleach-greens, many of which, no doubt, will shortly be occupied, from the rapid progress of the trade.

The following situations, among many others, are commodiously situated for water, aspest, and fuel. Three or four, between Lord Mountjoy's demesne, at Rath, and Newtown-Stewart, on the river Struel. One at Drumquin, by removing a corn-mill, and placing it a quarter of a mile below the village, where the fall and situation are much preferable to the present. One or two on the Poa, or Fairy-water, between Poa-bridge and Dodean-bridge. One above Mr. Chambers's green, near Omagh. Several might be introduced, along the river between Omagh and Fintona, and from Ballinahatty to near Dromore. The situations are very, good along those rivers, but in some parts turf is rather scarce. I have already mentioned drugget; here I beg leave. to recur to this article, the encouragement of which would be found of the greatest advantage to the lower class, both as to wearing apparel, and keeping them fully employed, at a season when flax may sometimes be out of the reach of the poor. From the beginning of June, till towards the first of September, is the most dormant part of the year for, spinning of flax. The poor people's stock, or what they generally grow themselves, is commonly spun by the first of June; and the remainder of the season, till the new flax comes in, is commonly supplied by flax purchased at the markets, or elsewhere. The above period, therefore, is that, in which the poor might be, in some measure, employed in spinning of wool, as at that season it is generally procured upon cheaper terms than flax. Besides, summer weather answers best for spinning wool. A spinner can manage flax by the light of the fire only; wool requires more regular light: hence the latter is the best subject: for the long day. But there is another confideration of great consequence, trifling at first view as it may appear. The root of the' common fern is at this season replete with an oily glutinous substance, which is well known to make an excellent substitute for oil or butter, without which wool cannot be manufactured, unless the fern- juice be made use of.

A pound of wool requires a quarter of a pound of butter, or the same proportion of oil, to prepare it for spinning, which may be saved by attending to the exudation of the fern, when cut up in small pieces. Perhaps it might be an object worthy of chemical enquiry, to find how long this juice might be preserved, and how to prepare it for that purpose. So far as I could learn from the common people, the root is cut into short pieces, bruised in a mortar, and then put into a cloth, and pressed out. I have seen beautiful pieces of drugget, made up in this country by house-keepers. When thickened in the tuck-mill, it is warmer, and lasts longer than other- wise ; in this case, two parts are generally composed of wool, and one of flax; in the usual way, the wool and flax are equal. I hope our northern farming societies, when more generally established, will attend to this hint.

source of information
Statistical Survey of the County of Tyrone with Observations on the mean of Improvement
By John M'Evoy, Royal Dublin Society
Published in 1882.