Affordable and fun guiding throughout Northern Ireland

Passed by this derelict lime kiln the other day and it got me thinking about their past purpose.  Now to share my findings with you all.

Lime kiln across the country basically followed the same design consisting of an egg shaped chamber 3 to 7 metres in diameter, with a hole at the bottom allowing access of air for combustion and the removal of the quick lime, this was constructed of bricks inside a square stone tower the height of which varied and may have been between 4 and 8 metres high. 

The kiln was often built into a bank allowing the fuel and limestone to be easily loaded into the top of the kiln.  This was a batch process each burning may have taken as much as four days, so allowing for filling, burning, cooling and removal, each batch probably took a week, for the process to work efficiently it was necessary that the kiln attained a temperature of 900 degrees c.

The lime from the kiln was taken by the farmers and put onto the fields in a process known as slacking.  In 1944 a fifty per cent lime subsidy that had been introduced by Parliament under the Land Fertility Scheme greatly assisted farmers.  The subsidy was still in place in the 1950s.

Lime was also used for whitewashing.  It would be put in a hole in the ground, a barrel or similar vessel and water was added.  It was then applied to the exterior of the cottage, the outhouse, the dairy or the henhouse.

In 1853, during an outbreak of cholera, advice was given to householders to prevent an attach of the disease.  Precautions included paying strict attention to cleanliness of both the person and clothes and "whitewashing dwelling inside and out with freshly burnt lime".


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Barbara Ferguson
Accredited Blue Badge Tourist Guide
Northern Ireland Guided Tours
41 Coolmillish Road
Co. Armagh
BT60 1SH
Northern Ireland

For your answer to an experienced & fun guided tour of Northern Ireland - Barbara is here to help

+44 (0) 28 3755 1119

+44 (0) 7740 511 442


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