A cottage industry during the 19th century. Flax was grown and prepared locally. Brickmaking:Another cottage industry which ended in the 1930s. Bricks were made from local clay.
Growing seed potatoes for the local market and for export was the main source of income between 1920 and 1970. When the presence of eelworm destroyed the industry carrots were grown for a number of years.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries brick making was an important cottage industry in Clonown. The red and blue clays found near the river were ideal for the production of bricks.
Clay was mixed with water and pounded with the bare feet. Next it was shovelled on to an old table or stand with a baton (a wooden implement). The mixture was then shaped in rectangular moulds and spread on grass to dry. During the drying process which took about four weeks they were turned and then made into 'hacks' (six or eight bricks grouped together). Next arches were formed by the bricks - about 5000 bricks per arch. Fires were lit under the arches, fuelled by turf, cut locally and the bricks were baked. This was the kiln. The fires were kept burning day and night until the bricks were fully baked. Long iron bars with curved ends, called stokers, were used to stoke the fires.
When the bricks were ready they were loaded on cots (boats) and brought to Athlone where they were sold to builders.
Many of the buildings that were erected in Athlone during this period were built with Clonown bricks.
(Information supplied by the late Mike Galvin in 1988)