“County Westmeath has a rich industrial heritage”, says Heritage Officer Melanie McQuade. “Along with the more well-known sites such as Athlone Woollen Mills, Locke’s Distillery or the Tobacco Factory in Mullingar, there were many other industries active in Westmeath including breweries, forges, and quarries as well as the canals, railways and utilities. As many as 4,855 industrial sites were identified by a recent survey, which is available online - http://www.westmeathcoco.ie/en/media/WestmeathIndustrialHeritageSurvey.pdf. Each of these industries contributed to the social, historical, technical, engineering and architectural development of the County. Now that we have the database of sites, we would love to hear more about the work and working life in these industrial sites”, says Melanie.
Do you have memories of industries that once operated in Westmeath? If you or one of your family worked in a mill, forge, factory or any of the other industrial sites in the County and are willing to share your memories, then Westmeath Heritage Office would like to hear from you. “We will be working with Oral Historian Adrian Roche of ‘The History Trail’ (www.thehistorytrail.ie) on a project to record people’s memories about a range of industries and industrial life in Westmeath. This project is being funded with support from the Heritage Council, Creative Ireland and Westmeath County Council”.
Adrian Roche adds that “oral history is the recording of people’s memories, experiences and opinions. It is a living history of everyone’s unique life experiences. This project gives us an opportunity to gather stories and recollections of local industries that are quickly disappearing, or have already gone, and to record what it was like to carry out this work before those memories are lost.” Melanie explains that “these stories and recollections will be recorded and documented so that they can be preserved for the future. They will form part of the Local Studies collection in the County Library, where generations to come will be able to access and enjoy them.”
If you would like to share your stories or if you would like to know more about this project and how you can get involved, contact email@example.com or call the Heritage Officer on 087 607 4496.
Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 28/05/2020