Milseán Mill, Limerick City – May 2014

Milseán Mill was the last of the trio of Limerick buildings which we had yet to crack. I’m not using it’s real name here as it’s not one I want to pop up in search engines but anyone from Limerick will know the building quite well. The main building was originally built in the late 1800s and initially started life as a flax mill. Since then various outbuildings have been added onto the main structure and the use of the building has changed as time has passed.

For the majority of its life, the factory was the headquarters of the Condensed Milk Company of Ireland. This company survived in Limerick for over 90 years until they were wound down in 1974. Their assets were split up and sold to the various farmer co-operatives that were operating in the country at the time. Golden Vale purchased this site and continued to process milk here up until 2011. In 2011 Kerry Group (which had since acquired Golden Vale) wound down the milk processing plant on site.

Milseán Mill
Image Source: Photo by Jim Bruce, released to the public domain under Wikimedia Commons

Since this closure (as far as I know) the site has been used mainly as a storage depot. This meant that security remained very tight with security on site 24/7 and the PIRs and CCTV which are scattered around the grounds of the building still remaining active. Stellaluna and I tried to access the site within this time but despite making it onto the grounds (and making an involuntary blood sacrifice on the way in!), the main building was tightly sealed. Similarly to Rank’s Silo and Bannatyne’s Mill all we could do was wait patiently.

Our chance came this year when Limerick was named as one of the European cities of culture for 2014. Limerick has embraced the title and has hosted countless events throughout the city encompassing many different art forms. The urban art which has been popping up around Limerick during the year is particularly impressive and has improved the look of the city considerably.

For the Summer of 2014, a series of contemporary art exhibitions were set up around the city. Luckily for us one of the main locations being used was this factory. Over twenty different art pieces were set up throughout the outbuildings of the site and within the ground floor of the main building. These areas however were mostly wide open spaces and held little of interest. The more interesting stuff remained behind closed doors.

After hearing that Stellaluna had figured out access, myself and Storysham visited the exhibition as soon as we could. With the grounds being open to the public, security still remained on site keeping an eye on things and monitoring the CCTV. Along with this there were plenty of volunteers looking after the exhibitions so we still had to be wary. After arriving at the exhibition we waited around and bided our time until everything was clear and then quickly went for it making our way over the access point and into one of the buildings.

From here we were able to explore to our heart’s content as long as we kept away from the windows and kept noise to a minimum. We worked our way throughout the accessible outbuildings and main building. Disappointingly the main building had been mostly stripped of anything of interest. The machinery that once filled this building seems to have been long removed. All that remains now to remind you of its past use are small mementos scattered throughout the building. We came across some small pieces of machinery which hadn’t been removed and milk boxes and cans from the days when the mill was in operation but other than this the place had been well cleaned out. Nonetheless the impressiveness of the structure itself kept us interested along with the fantastic view down the river overlooking Limerick City. More than that though I was happy to finally crack the third structure in the Limerick trio which I had been trying so hard to access over the last eight years. Like the other two buildings it took a bit of luck and opportunism to get it done. In the end though I reckon this made it all the more satisfying.

Below are the handful of photos I took from our cheeky venture within the mill.

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This is the view of an exterior wall of the main building from within one of the outbuildings. Unfortunately someone saw fit to plaster and paint over the original stonework

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The first floor of the main building, disappointingly this room had been altered significantly with the addition of a suspended ceiling and flimsy partitioning

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The second floor of the main building

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The beautiful spiral staircase which winds it’s way from the top to the bottom of the structure

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A view of Limerick I’ve been waiting a long time to enjoy, unfortunately a typical Limerick hail/rain shower put a quick end to that!

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