After the Fire – After the Bar – Johnny’s back on the Tools

Dooneen Sawmills Fire Aftermath 22-3-2000
Johnny Cahill pictured after fire destroyed his Dooneen Sawmills outside Castleisland in March 2000. ©Photograph: John Reidy 22-3-2000

The month of March and the year 2000 have burned themselves into Johnny Cahill’s memory. We met on the site of his Dooneen Sawmills one day during the week and he reminded me it was 16 years since we last stood there together.

Then, it was a site of devastation with only the odd steel, shed support standing against the blackened backdrop of his entire business.

Dooneen Sawmills was flying in those pre-boom days. Genuine wooden floors were all the go. They were in great demand for bars and restaurants and hotels and private houses.

Fire Struck

And Johnny’s huge saws and an endless supply of wood from ancient, condemned or storm felled trees and old buildings were well able to cope with the demand.

Then the fire struck in the early weeks of that March and it turned his world on its head.

Dooneen Sawmills 28-5-2016
Johnny Cahill back in his rejuvinated Dooneen Sawmills outside Castleisland with a sample of his garden benches and a tree being prepared for the saw.  ©Photograph: John Reidy

Kris Kristofferson’s Darby’s Castle is the nearest you’ll find to an apt description of the aftermath among the lines of a great song.

Johnny turned to the drink – but not in the way our conditioning leads us to think. He rented Kearney’s Bar on Castleisland’s Main Street and stepped behind the counter and stayed there for the following 15 years.

Funny Old Tricks

Circumstances, weather and years play funny old tricks on us all. Enter the savage Storm Darwin of February 2014.

People with long memories and big problems began calling Johnny about trees that were down around their houses, farmyards or fields.

There were trees which stood against the worst of the gales of that spring that left their owners shaking at the sight of the struggle. Some decided that was enough – and they had even the victorious trees removed.

Huge Stockpile

Johnny responded to all the calls and built up a huge stockpile of timber – some he bought – some he was given on a please-take-it-out-of-our-way basis.

An enquiry or two about his old trade and its products coincided with a growing restlessness with the pub trade.

Johnny is back and getting Dooneen Sawmills into its old swing. The demand is different now. The genuine wooden flooring is gone the way of the boom and its printed replacement is now all the go.

 It’s in wooden, garden and park benches the demand lies now. And Johnny has the material to suit and to last. The majestic giant Cyrpess was very vulnerable in those stormy conditions. Many fine examples now lay flat and awaiting conversion to a new existence. All Dooneen Sawmills products are weather resistant by nature – but they’re treated for extra protection as a routine.

Glass Artists and Wooden Panels

Odd sizes, extra long or wide benches and table requests are all being catered for.

Johnny is even thinking of stained-glass artists and once-off, large wooden panels – where knots the size of your head and shoulders have fallen out and backlighting and corporate rooms and other great flights of creativity.

Dooneen Sawmills will make-to-measure, deliver and place your piece of garden or house furniture with a call to: 087 26 74 661