Mullan is a picturesque 19th century mill village, located 8 miles north of Monaghan town, a few miles to the west of Emyvale, and close to the Armagh border. It is built in the tradition of other Ulster Mill Villages similar to but smaller than, Sion Mills, Bessbrook Co. Armagh, and Drumaness, Co. Down. Although small, the unique aspect of Mullan is that it remains practically unchanged today .
Architecturally, much of the village is early Victorian in character. Very few similarly well-defined and preserved examples of early rural industrial development exist in this country.
There are also a number of very attractive small cultural and heritage features within the village which make it attractive to visitors. These include a curved stone bench, a working water pump, and a mill-race which is over 1km long and reputed to be the longest mill-race in this country. The village still has a functioning post office.
Mullan (Muileann) means "the mill”. McCutheon in “The Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland” (1984) describes these Ulster mill settlements: 'In country areas the mill village was a compact cluster of regular terraced housing. The character of these industrial settlements reflected the nature and outlook of the proprietors, who had usually built or financed both the houses themselves and an associated range of public buildings- school, church, recreation hall, welfare and community centre, library, shop - which together made up the physical fabric of the village'.
Favourable conditions such as the construction of roads and canals enabled goods to be transported from remote locations such as Mullan. The Great Northern Railway, Ulster Canal and the main Enniskillen to Belfast road passed very close to Mullan.
A Long Tradition of Industry
Mullan has an exceptionally rich history as a milling location, and according to tradition, had been a centre of the linen industry in the 18th century and early 19th centuries. By 1857 the cottages and a substantial flax mill, with its associated mill race had been developed on the site. Later it was known for the manufacture of Bullock Irish Serge. In the early part of the 20th century the mill fell into disuse.
The village lay idle and deserted for many years until in 1924, a private company was formed and Mullan was revived with the establishment of a shoe factory on the site. By 1925, 80 people were employed in the manufacture of heavy footwear, the Mill Brand and the Border Brand. The village was bought by the Boylan family in 1944 and up to the late 1970s was a busy and bustling rural centre.
Current Developments at Mullan
Mullan’s border location contributed greatly to its decline over the past quarter of a century, and the village suffered a gradual reduction of population, with most of the mill houses falling into disrepair and abandonment by the 1990’s.
Plans are now underway gradually to restore the mill houses and revive the village as a centre for the local community once more.