Liam Brett (b. 1924) and John Brett (b. 1960)
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Liam Brett (b. 1924) and John Brett (b. 1960)


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The sawmills at Sion Road have been operating for 200 years and since 1886 the Brett family has owned the business. In that year Liam Brett’s grandfather and his two sons, Bill and John, came from ‘The Pike’ public house on the Carlow-Kilkenny Road, to take over the sawmills. Liam’s father, Bill Brett, was later to take over the sole running of the business, which is now in the care of Liam and John Brett. In this recording, compiled at the sawmills, both men demonstrate the work practices which have existed since the 1800s, and with great pride they explain the workings of the water wheel powered by the River Nore, which drives the saws, as it has done from the earliest days. Liam Brett discusses the changes which have taken place over the generations. In the beginning, there was great demand for carts and stocks for cartwheels and John Brett explains that tractor trailers were in huge demand after the war years. The cutting of the ash for hurls is still part of the business. Liam describes the cutting of the ash – “you go by the root and you keep the grain.” Tom Neary and Ramie Dowling, hurl makers from Kilkenny city, are supplied with the fine ash cut at the sawmills at Sion Road.

Additional information



Audio series:

Kilkenny (Clara parish), third series


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

11.14 MB, 12.52 MB, 4.75 MB, 21.74 MB, 5.54 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



The sawmills

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe