Lime kilns were once common features of rural landscapes throughout Ireland in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In fact almost every village could boast at least one as evident in the village field names. Unfortunately most kilns have been destroyed or have faded into the landscape. In the case of the one in Ballyconnigar Upper, the Lime Kiln has been completely overgrown. 
Lime kilns are structures in which limestone was heated to a high temperature to produce lime. The most common type of lime kiln consisted of an egg-shaped bricked or stone lined chamber with an opening at the bottom of the chamber for air admission, fire setting and lime removal. It was constructed of locally available material. No mortar was used in its construction and the stones were of varying dimensions with small filling stones also being used. The lime burning was carried out as a single firing or as a batch process when large numbers of locals or whole families would be involved. Because the lime kiln was filled from the top and could be unloaded from the top, access to the top of the kiln was necessary. The kiln was generally constructed on either a rock face, or earthen bank, to permit this. Ramps were then sometimes constructed to gain access to the top of the kiln.
The burning process began with the laying of an iron gate or similar over the fire at the base to hold the lime stones. These stones had been broken into pieces about the size of a man’s fist using a sledge hammer before they were transported to the site by horse and cart. Alternative layers of fuel and stone were placed in the kiln until it was filled to the top. The fuel was ignited at the bottom of the kiln and the burning process allowed to proceed. A minimum temperature of about 900°C (the limestone reaching a bright red heat) was required to convert the limestone to lime. In the case of the batch process, the burning took around 4 days. Many types of fuel were used in lime kilns. The choice generally depended on what was available locally and in the case here could have included sticks, furze and possibly coal or coal slack. The lime produced would have been used primarily on agricultural land to break up the heavy clay soil and sweeten the grass. 
It was also used as mortar in building and for white-washing walls to make them waterproof. To this day, only yards away from the Lime Kiln, there are whitewashed walls and houses. My own parents house, although a 1970’s in bungalow in Ballygarrett, is too still whitewashed. Obviously today, the lime is shop bought and not produced locally in the same labour intensive way as was in the past. 
Does anyone have any information who managed this kiln and when was the last firing?   

Lime Kiln

Ballyconnigar Upper, Blackwater, Co. Wexford

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