Foxford is one of the last working mills in Ireland. It was founded by an Irish Sister of Charity in 1892 and overcame many challenges over the years in order to survive. Foxford works with master craftspeople in a working mill that has survived for over one hundred years and produces some of the world’s finest weaves, using traditions passed down through generations.
The Great Famine of 1845 – 1849 hit the County of Mayo hard where nine tenths of the population was dependant on the blighted crop. In the years that followed, families devastated by the famine slowly began to rebuild their lives.
The Convent of the Divine Providence was established in 1892 by Irish Sister of Charity Mother Agnes Morrogh-Bernard in the village of Foxford, County Mayo, on the River Moy.
In 1892 and through the assistance of the Congested District Board with a considerable loan, work began on the Mill. Mother Agnes knew providence would provide, and the power of the River Moy was harnessed to drive prosperity to the region.
The early years at Foxford were a struggle, but the faith of the Sisters and the diligence of the local people won out and by the turn of the century, the mill had begun to thrive. Sisters and local people worked side by side, the mill was a success!
Disaster strikes in 1908, a terrible tragedy occurred, and the working mill, which is the economic mainstay of the region, was burnt to the ground. Nothing but a shell of the building remained.
In 1942 Foxford Mill came out of the ashes & became an integral part of the community with 220 craftspeople. Foxford stemmed the tide of emigration in the area and education levels were improved for the entire community.
Ireland’s textile industry goes into financial decline and Foxford is not immune, going into receivership in the summer of 1987. With livelihoods in jeopardy, local business people come together to save the mill. In 1992 Foxford celebrated the Centenary of the Mill and opened The Visitors Centre. It was opened by Irelands President Mary Robinson with great celebrations.
In 1996 the mill welcomed its 100,000th visitor! The Mill moves with the times. In 1999 with the help of a new design team, Foxford embrace contemporary homeware alongside their classic weaves. In 2007 the Mill was modernised, with an investment of a million euro. New life is brought to the store and the award winning restaurant opens its doors.
Today, Foxford is a thriving Working Mill and Visitors Centre, employing over 40 people and allowing a tradition spanning thousands of years to survive and flourish. As has been the case for generations, Foxford pieces are treasured possessions and welcome gifts, but with the help of award winning Irish Designers like Helen McAlinden, they have been made contemporary and up to date. What was once a convent in the late 1800's is now a bustling hive of activity.