The Belturbet Distillery 1825-1885
In 1825 Messrs Dickson and Dunlop and Co. operated a Distillery at the junction of Mill Hill and Mill Walk in Belturbet, Co. Cavan. It was built at a cost of £21.OOO and later enlarged and improved in 1830 at an additional cost of £6000. It was situated on the town side of the river at the rear of Erne Vale, the home of the Donoghoe family. Peat and coal were used for drying and distilling purposes. The Distillery produced 90,000- 100,000 gallons of whiskey per annum, and gave permanent employment to about 100 people in the Belturbet area.
The river was dammed at this point. It supplied a never ending source of power. On 11th April 1845, a number of people who lived along the river upstream near Killeshandra protested about the damage to land caused by flooding due to the damming of the river. They threatened to demolish the dam. The Priest at Drumlane advised them against this course of action. On 17th April the police were out in force as an attack on the dam was expected. Nothing happened as the river was in flood. An attack was again expected after the Fair on 21st; however nothing happened until 2nd May when a crowd removed part of the dam rampart which was known as the ‘’Dummies Wall.’’ They attacked the dam again a week later. Eight men were charged and convicted of riotous behavior. Mr. Seed, head clerk at the Distillery was also charged with shooting and wounding Louis Flood who had been involved in the attack. Mr. Seed was acquitted. The Distillery closed in 1885, a victim of punitive taxation.
The ‘’Dummies Wall’’ was so called because two dummies, (mute men) who were cousins, worked on constructing the dam. Folklore says that the same two men engaged in a serious fight, using their hammers while employed on the construction of the roof of the Presbyterian Church.
During the Great Famine Indian corn was sold at the Distillery in Belturbet, it is said at inflated prices. Mr. Seed was in charge of distribution. The corn was brought up the Ulster Canal.