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Eastern County Down together with northeast County Wexford have a denser population of windmills than anywhere in the country, this may be because of the flatness of the terrain and the consequential lack of sizable streams to power water mills.
There are many windmill stumps scattered around the county, it is said that at one time there were over 100 working mills in County Down, only Ballycopeland Windmill has survived. It has been restored to full working condition, the attached Miller's House forms part of this unique and interesting visitor attraction.
It is uncertain when it was built but it is estimated around the 1780's or 90's, it first appeared on a Ordnance Survey map of the area in 1830's
The Ballycopeland Windmill is of the tower type with a mobile cap this is moved by a fantail in order to keep the sales facing the prevailing wind. There are two entrance doors the west door allows access should the main east door be [Cutaway drawing of Ballycopeland windmill Co Down Click for larger image.] blocked by the sails.
The mill and Miller's house are open to the public.
The advent of the industrial revolution and the adoption of roller milling, where the grain is crushed between rotating rollers led to the centralization of milling, which came to be based near large seaports when foreign grain began to be imported. This led to a slow decline in the use of wind power as well as water mills, most in their twilight years were only used to process animal feed for local farmers. By the early years of the twentieth century, most windmills had fallen into disuse a few water powered corn mills survived into the 1950's.
There are three other restored wind mills in Ireland. At the moment we do not have their contact details, contact the relevant county tourist office. The mills are Tacumshin in Co Wexford, Bllenerville in Co Kerry and Elphin in Co Roscommon.
Other surviving mill's in Ireland.