‘Industrial heart’ of Limerick city is remembered in new publication

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

A book remembering the social and economic history of one of Limerick most venerable institutions, Ranks Mills, has been launched in City Hall.

A book remembering the social and economic history of one of Limerick most venerable institutions, Ranks Mills, has been launched in City Hall.

Ranks Mills, the Industrial Heart of Limerick City, a publication compiled by a team of archivists working for City Council, was launched by Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Jim Long and Minister of State, Jan O’Sullivan TD, at a ceremony attended by former employees of the now defunct factory.

The book examines the working conditions in the factory, the rise of unions, the economic reasons for the mill’s closure as well as the downturn of the milling industry in Ireland in the latter part of the twentieth century.

The hardback publication complements a special exhibition entitled Ranks: A Limerick Industry, based on the stories, memories and contributions of former workers and their families which is currently on display in the Hunt Museum.

A group of former employees were on hand to witness the launch and the preservation of their memories in the book, which boasts never before seen photographs of the former mill.

Former Ranks foreman Albert Copues was on hand to witness the launch and compared the renewed interest in Ranks as akin to a “phoenix”, saying that while the mill was gone, the archivists efforts in collaborating with the former workers had “breathed life into the story of Ranks in Limerick”.

“Milling was one of Limerick’s oldest industries and Ranks Mills on the Dock Road was one of Limerick’s flagship industries,” said Mayor Long in launching the book.

“It’s a credit to the Limerick City Council archives department and I’d like to pay tribute to them and the hundreds of Ranks workers through the years for putting such a wonderful publication together,” he said.

Ms O’Sullivan noted that she had a personal connection to Ranks, with the relatives on the Gale side of the family having worked in the transport and clerical deliveries department.

Jacqui Hayes, Limerick City Archivist, said that the book reflected “the City Archive’s commitment to preserve and document the history of Limerick and its citizens and to bring our heritage to as wide an audience as possible”.

“Ranks Flour Mills and grain ships were a crucial part of Limerick life over a span of several decades and its legacy provides an excellent example of life and work in Limerick’s recent past. We’re delighted with this new publication which remembers an industry hugely important not just in Limerick but across Ireland as Ranks reached into every home in the country with its products and advertisements.”

The book is on sale in local bookshops and the Hunt Museum and retails at €15. The exhibition in the Hunt Museum runs until the end of May.