Blarney Woollen Mills, County Cork
The Blarney Woollen Mills were built in 1823 and originally went by the name Mahony’s Mills. It was a great source of employment for the people of Blarney and the surrounding areas, producing tweeds and woollens of an excellent quality for sale both and home and abroad. Today the Blarney Woollen Mills is Ireland’s largest Irish gifts store, stocking an extensive range of Ireland’s finest home grown products. At the store you’ll find Waterford Crystal, Belleek Fine china, Royal Tara, Celtic Jewellery and not forgetting the infamous Aran Sweaters.
For 30 years Blarney Woollen Mills and demonstrated its expertise in all things Irish, with fantastic customer service and an enviable catalogue of gifts, which are exported all over the world. The great legacy of the Woollen Mills and its continued success is due largely to Christy Kelleher. As a boy of 13 Christy began work at the Woollen Mills. From 1928 and over a period of 22 years he worked at the mills, first as an apprentice machinist and later as a supervisor, maintaining the heavy industrial machinery. He prided himself on his work and ensured that the machines continued to operate even during the war years when parts were sparse.
It was this sort of dedication and innovation, which spurred on Christy to open a souvenir shop in Blarney in 1967 - “a thatched cottage on wheels” – which is today on display at the mills’ grounds. In 1973 Blarney Woollen Mills shut its doors dealing a blow for the people of Blarney and resulting in the unemployment of five hundred staff. But once again Christy stepped in, and despite the financial strain of the investment at the time he purchased the mills and transferred his souvenir business to the site. He also converted part of the building into a hotel, which was aptly named Christy’s.
Since then the business has gone from strength to strength, creating jobs and bringing Irish to customers worldwide. Millions of visitors pass through the Woollen Mills every year and marvel at the legacy, which Christy Kelleher has left being. Unfortunately, Christy died in 1991as one of Ireland’s most famous entrepreneurs. The spirit and vision of this great man will live on in blarney forever.
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