• kelp;
  • industry;
  • islands;
  • post-medieval

The manufacture of kelp in Ireland from the 17th to early 20th centuries provided soda and later iodine for contemporary industries. It was an immensely important element of coastal economies, and notably for island communities, often impoverished and with limited agricultural means. This paper traces the origins and development of the industry in Ireland and examines the evidence for production in the islands off the northern coast. The results of a recent survey of surviving kelp monuments are presented. The form of the monuments, in particular kilns, is considered as well as the role of the industry in island economies.

© 2006 The Author