A woman by the name of Agnes Morrogh-Bernard turned her back on her life of privilege and finishing schools, to join the Sisters of Charity. At the age of 50 she came to the place that would be forever changed by her presence — Foxford, Co Mayo. She saw the mighty river Moy running through the poverty-stricken village and had an ingenious idea — to build a woollen mill powered by its waters.
The well-known Irish political leader Michael Davitt helped Sr. Agnes make a connection with a mill owner in Co Tyrone.
The business flourished, and even a savage fire in 1907 wasn’t enough to throw the business off course. 220 people were employed over the first 90 years in the Mill, creating rugs and woven cloth. The fabric for every Garda uniform in the state rolled off the looms here at the Foxford Mill.
As years went on, the new demand for synthetic bedding, such as the duvet, had a disastrous effect on the Woollen Mills. In 1987, the gates were closed and receivers were unfortunately brought in.
The next chapter begins with one of the receivers Joe Queenan, a young accountant and local man. At the time, unemployment in Ireland was at 18%, but the Mill was still a hugely important employer. Joe, with the help of others, shared Mother Agnes’s vision and kept the Mill alive.
Now the Mill that was once a much-needed lifeline to many local people has become much more than just a manufacturer. It is now a lifestyle brand, with an innovative Foxford shopping, tour and café experience.