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History of the Ramelton Bottling Stores, Co. Donegal

The Ramelton Bottling Stores were built around 1830 and extended over the years to the north along the quay.

In the 18th and 19th century, Ramelton was a prosperous port with trade extending to Great Britain, North America, Norway and the Caribbean. There are accounts of ships from the Caribbean sailing up Lough Swilly, anchoring at Ramelton and unloading their exotic cargoes in exchange for linen and Irish agricultural produce such as corn, meat and fish. At that time Ramelton had the most important linen works in Co. Donegal which brought great wealth to the area. The Watt family owned the largest linen works, and in the early 1800s Samuel Watt moved to Jamaica and began importing linen from Ramelton with his brother James acting as agent, earning 25% on sales. 6 tonnes a week of flax which was not exported was brought to Derry where they were used in the shirt making industry.

Corn was also a major export from the town, and Slater’s Directory in 1846 noted ‘vessals up to one hundred and fifty tons burthen can come up to the quayside at high water, and others, almost of any tonnage can approach within half a mile of the town’.

Unfortunately the town declined in importance for international trade towards the end of the 19th century, and missed out when a rail line was brought to Letterkenny in 1909, but without a link to Ramelton.

In recent years the movie ‘The Hanging Gale’ was recorded at the Ramelton Bottling Stores, and one of the buildings was home to ‘Donegal Ancestry Centre’, who provided assistance with people researching their Donegal roots. Today the building is home to ‘The Blue Goat’, a coffee shop and artisan food market.

Ramelton Quay in 1870

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