On the road from Blarney to Donoughmore, in the Parish of Cloghroe, Co. Cork, there is a place called “Burnt Mills”. It is so called because about a hundred years ago it was the scene of a great fire. There were two mills there – the upper mills and the lower mills. The upper mill was a paper mill and belonged to a man named Mr. Ryan. The lower mill was a flour mill. Both mills were burned about 90 years ago. The Ryan’s rebuilt the paper mill and carried on the business. Some time after the Ryan’s died, the mill was let idle and it fell down. St Ann’s Hill Hydro, built the other mill as a tenement house. And that is why it is called the “Burnt Mills”.
The above story is from the Dúchas website, explaining rather eloquently how the Burnt Mills came about it’s name. The Burnt Mills, situated along the banks of the river Shournagh, halfway between the remains of St Anne’s Hydro and Fox’s Bridge, lies in ruins today, with Mother Nature running riot, overgrown trees and weeds completely covering the building.
There was, in fact, two mills situated on the Shournagh river, one a paper mill which eventually became better known as the Burnt Mill and a flour mill, further along the river at Gurth. The paper mill had been started in the mid-1800’s and in 1870 was leased to a John Mathias Ryan from Dr. Richard Barter, the previous lessee of the paper mills being a Mr. Fisher. * 1. Cork Holly Bough 1983
These paper mills under John M. Ryan were hugely successful in the later years of the 19th century, so much so that the stationery paper bags and wrapping paper produced here were awarded a “Honorable Mention” at the famous Cork International Exhibition of 1883. * 2. Cork Holly Bough 1983
John M. Ryan died in 1902 and his son William F. Ryan oversaw the paper mill up until it closed down in 1910. There is very little remaining of this particular building, mainly having been lost to time and nature.
The Burnt Mills, in contrast, has very little surviving to inform about the origins of the mill other than the fact that the mills were owned by a man named Gayer and the mill produced flour and meal. At some stage Dr. Richard Barter took over the mill, and according to the extract from An Dúchas above, utilised the building as housing for staff.
Much later in 1904 the mills were leased to a local family by Dr. Barter and they seemed to simply live in it as a family home.