The Filament Fibre Artists were treated to a fascinating visit to Fancroft Mill and gardens in glorious summer sunshine last week. When we were invited to visit Fancroft we jumped at the chance to see a working mill that has been completely restored over the last few years due to the dedication of its owners Irene and Marcus Sweeney.
We arrived early in the day to explore the beautiful gardens and enjoy the summer colour at a leisurely stroll before taking advantage of Irene’s tasty refreshments.
Marcus then took us on a tour of the renovated mill. His passion for the renovation, knowledge of the history and working of the mill and his attention to detail were very inspiring. Having such a knowledgeable guide added a great deal to our visit and to our ability to understand the mill we have been researching in Kells in Kilkenny which sadly, is no longer working.
We visited the grain store and had an insight into the type of working environment labourers would have dealt with in the mills. Then we explored the mill race, sluice gates and the mill wheel itself and Marcus explained the workings of the water wheel and its restoration. The cool atmosphere was filled with the steady mesmeric movement and sound of the wheel.
We moved on to the part of the mill where grain is ground into flour. The conservation and restoration of the structure is immaculate. Many of the original elements of the mills mechanics have been retained and are now hundreds of years old. Once they began to move we felt history come to life. The whole building began to thrum and pulse with a low vibration which began with the water in the wheel and made its way up through the mill stones to the whirring belts and shafts on the floors above.
The simplicity and the ingeniousness of the mechanism was very moving and we came away with a deep respect for the people that designed, built and worked this mill. We also gained a new appreciation of what our Mill in Kells must have been like in its glory days.
We left the cool interior of the mill and returned to the treats of Irene’s wonderful kitchen and a feast fit for royalty. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and learned more of the couples experience with the restoration and upkeep of the mill and gardens.
It was a wonderful and fascinating visit that will inform our work into the future and fuel creativity energy in the new phase of our Mill project. Filament Fibre Artists would like to thank our hosts, Marcus and Irene most sincerely for their wonderful hospitality, their wealth of knowledge and their generosity in giving us their time.