LIMERICK MANUFACTURING

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

Considerable efforts for the encouragement of the linen and cotton manufactures were not long since made, but failed. The former branch of industry has of late greatly declined; it had existed in the county for more than a century, and, by the exertions of the Chamber of Commerce, the weavers were enabled to manufacture that description of linen best adapted to command a sale; a weekly market was formed; and a linen-hall was erected, in which markets were held every Friday and Saturday. Premiums were also given by the Chamber of Commerce, until this branch of their public exertions was undertaken by the Agricultural Association, a committee of which, united with the Trustees for the Promotion of Industry in the county, met for the purpose in the committee-room at the linen-hall every Saturday.

This united committee, besides annual subscriptions from its own body, which are applicable to all improvements in agriculture, has under its management a fund of about £7000, allocated to the county by a Board of Directors in London, for the purpose of promoting the linen, woollen, cotton, and other trades among the poor. The glove trade, formerly of great celebrity, has declined considerably, most of the gloves sold under the name of Limerick being now manufactured in Cork. A manufactory was formed in 1829, at Mount Kennett, for tambour lace and running, better known by the name of Irish blonde, which is here brought to great perfection and gives employment to about 400 young females; the wrought article is sent to London.

A lace-factory, established in 1836, in Clare-street, by William Lloyd, Esq., employs 250 young females who are apprenticed to it: the produce is sent to London. A muslin-factory, in the Abbey parish, employs 100 boys as apprentices. The distillery of Stein, Browne and Co., at Thomond-gate, produces 455,000 gallons of whiskey annually. There are also seven breweries, each of which brews porter, ale, and beer to a total amount of 5000 barrels annually; the consumption both of these and of the distillery is chiefly confined to the neighbourhood. There are several iron-foundries, cooperages, and comb-manufactories, but all on a small scale.

In the liberties of the city are several extensive flour-mills, which grind upwards of 50,000 barrels of flour annually; and not far from the town are two paper-mills and two bleach-greens. The supply of fuel is abundant, large quantities of coal being imported from England; but turf, of which a very large supply is brought up and down the Shannon, is still the chief fuel of the lower classes, and is also much used in manufactories and in the kitchens of the higher ranks.

An abundance of fish is procured by the exertions of the inhabitants towards the mouth of the river, and on the neighbouring coasts; and besides a salmon fishery, leased by the corporation, trout, eels, perch, and pike, are taken in the river, and, lower down, all kinds of shell and flat fish. In the month of May, numerous temporary causeways are formed several yards into the river on each side, by the poor, on which they fish with nets for eel fry; the quantities taken are so great that each individual fills a couple of washing tubs with them every tide. The corporation by their charter claim an exclusive right to all fishing from the city to Inniscattery island.

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