Keeping the mill stone turning

Enjoy a milling and baking experience at Martry Mill

Miller James Tallon explains how and why Martry Mill is continuing to produce flour in a time when almost all of the mills in the country have long since been replaced by factories and modern processing plants

Martry Mill on the River Blackwater, about halfway between Navan and Kells, is one of less than a handful of traditional mills still operating today. Before the Industrial Revolution there was close to 10,000 mills in Ireland, the rivers’ power was harnessed to saw timber, produce textiles and to process grains into flour.

We use only the best quality milling wheat, sourced for us by our local grain specialists at Drummonds feed mill based outside of Navan. I clean the wheat using the more modern method of vacuum before using the pre-Industrial Revolution millstones to grind the wheat into flour. The process is slow but all of the natural goodness and flavour is maintained in the flour. The primary motivation for keeping the millstone turning here is because I believe in the quality of the flour.

The flour however isn’t profitable, so I have been developing our second product to help keep the milling viable. In the past when watermills were stopping their millstones for the final time, an old eel fishery provided the extra income to keep the mill operating. Today private tours and open days play that key role, helping to maintain the mill and also to keep my flour at a better price for my customers.

School tours to Martry Mill have been becoming very popular. Since we installed an oven last year we have had tour groups visiting from nine different counties, with local schools returning for multiple visits, school projects and every age group from junior infants up to Leaving Certificate students dropping by to learn all about mills, their history, about grain, flour and baking.

Our friend and neighbour Lucy Forde is also working as a specialist in milling and traditional foods for The Heritage Council’s in-schools programme. The Department of Education have given us fantastic support and we are very proud of the work Lucy is doing with her workshops bringing milling, baking and the story of food into the classroom. (

This summer, we are opening each Thursday and Saturday in July and August at 3pm for a mill and baking experience so everyone is welcome to come visit Martry Mill. The format in a nutshell is drinks/bread tasting on arrival, followed by a short talk, then a baking class, a longer talk, a tour, each group/couple/ticket has their freshly baked bread as a takeaway. The duration is about 2.5 hours. There is plenty of time for Q&A, to enjoy the mill and to see all the old machines, like the pre-Industrial Revolution millwheel and millstones, working to produce flour that visitors collect fresh from the millstones for their bread baking class.

Our summer open days are ticket only, available on Discover Martry Mill Events & Activities in Kells, Ireland | Eventbrite. We will do our best to provide great value and a fantastic afternoon to anyone who attends. The flour is available in local shops and in SuperValu supermarkets in Meath.

Photo by John Donohoe