In the Blennerville neighborhood of Tralee is a 70 foot tall, five floor windmill constructed in 1800 by Sir Roland Blennerhorsett. It was designed to mill grain for the local inhabitants, as well as for export to Great Britain. Standing as a dominant landmark in Tralee Bay ( where the town meets the Dingle Peninsula), the mill houses a visitors center, craft center, model railroad, art gallery, and a restaurant.
Blennerville was a main port for emigration from County Kerry ( including for some of Lorraine’s ancestors) during the Great Famine years (1845 to 1848) and was home to the famous barque “Jeanie Johnson” (an example of the infamous “coffin ships” of the emigration era). One of the exhibits at the windmill’s visitor center is dedicated to the history surrounding the emigration efforts . We learned that it was cheaper for these Irish emigrants to travel to Canada than it was to enter the U.S. through Boston (or even New York, which was the most expensive).
By the end of the 19th century, the windmill began to show signs of decay from reduced usage as a result of the development of the steam engine and the creation of the Tralee Ship Canal. By 1981, the Tralee Urban District Council had purchased the windmill and began the process of restoration. Even though this is predominantly a tourist attraction now, it is still considered to be a working windmill. When its 60 foot long sails are turning, it is an extraordinary sight.