In the 19th century, dairy farmers with six, eight, twelve or more cows on the Castlecomer Plateau installed animal-powered gear systems, to churn the cream. There were two types of animal-powered churning machines on the Plateau – indoor wooden churning gears known as horse wheels and outdoor metal gears, known as horse engines. They served the dual-purpose of churning the cream and, at the same time, they tempered culm from the local coalmines with yellow clay and water under the animal’s hooves to make culm balls to burn as a domestic fuel. The wooden gears were erected in the early decades of the 19th century but were gradually replaced by cast-iron gears in the second half of the century.
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