St Johnston and Carrigans Donegal



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William Millar was born in 1896 at Milltown, St. Johnston, son of Thomas Millar, also a millar. Born into a large family, William had two elder brothers, James and Thomas junior.

In the years following the first World War and around the time of the partition of Ireland his two elder brothers emigrated to Ontario, Canada. William took over the family mill, buying oats, making oatmeal and trading in maize, also known as Indian corn.

There had also been a flax or 'scutch' mill at the site. The building where flake oatmeal was produced had been there since before 1718 and had its own waterwheel. William built a new two-storey dwelling house at Milltown; he married twice, first to Rebecca, who passed away, then Elizabeth, and reared five children.

He started the production of flake oatmeal in 1955 and this continued until 1970. Flake oatmeal was an advance on the tradition oatmeal used in porridge for centuries. Flake oatmeal was produced from ordinary oatmeal. The 'fines' were sifted out to leave pinhead oatmeal. This was steamed and rolled to make flake oatmeal.

William retired in the early 1970s as barley became the dominant cereal crop in the district, passing the business to his two sons, Tommy and Billy.

courtesy of Monreagh Ulster Scots facebook page 2019