Drumcairn Mill still stands on the Loughgall Road on the outskirts of Armagh City, Co. Armagh. A building with a long history of occupancy, it is home now to a private business.
The mill at Drumcairn was first built to process linen and locals knew it as the “low mill”. It later saw use as a slipper factory and as “Armagh Shoes”.
A close-knit community lived in the cottages of the Mill Row in the shadow of Drumcairn Mill. It was here that author John O’Connor was born on 3rd April 1920. The people in the row had the mill to thank for their homes but continual flux in employment saw the row become run down.
Wartime at the Mill
In 1944, as American Troops took over the mill, O’Connor’s story ‘The Boy and the Stone’ won a short story competition. He would go on to author ‘Come Day – Go Day’ in 1948, a novel about life in the Co. Armagh community near the mill.
Maureen Johnson (née Hennessy) and her brother Oliver Hennessy recalled sixty years of life in the Mill Row for History Armagh.
In the early stages of the war, Maureen suggests that British troops took up residency in Drumcairn Mill. Relations between the soldiers and locals were good. Dances, concerts and Christmas parties took place in the mill’s reading and dining rooms. On rare occasions when an air raid siren sounded, residents headed to the Stony Loning and spent the night by the Callan River.
The following American forces were based in Drumcairn Mill, Armagh, Co. Armagh between 1943 and 1944. If you have more information on them, please get in touch.
|Start Date||End Date||Units|
|22nd October 1943||11th April 1944||2nd Quartermaster Company, 2nd Infantry Division|
|22nd October 1943||11th January 1944||2nd Signal Company, 2nd Infantry Division|
The American GIs continued the dances and parties at the mill after their arrival in late 1943. The men of the 2nd Infantry “Indianhead” Division could offer a lot more luxuries such as candy and chocolate to the residents of the row. At Christmas 1943, the military men provided Christmas dinner for their neighbours.
In 1944, the men would leave for the south of England. From their, they continued their journey to the Normandy beaches landing at Omaha Beach on 7th June 1944. As they marched from Drumcairn Mill to the Armagh Train Station, the residents of Mill Row walked with them, cheering and applauding all the way.