The town of Millstreet grew up in the 18th. century - as its name implies - around the little mill situated in Mill Road and it became the centre of parish life. Several smaller mills were in operation in the parish, in Dooneen, Cloghoula and Drishane.
Gradually the town grew and the population increased. An ale and porter brewery was established in 1835.1 5 The site was the tanyard field or meadow. This continued and flourished until the Famine. A tannery located in the present Tanyard district gave a lot of employment until the industry went steadily down during the period of Grattan's Parliament due to the exporting of live cattle and the growth of the tanning industry in the countries which had formerly been the largest customers for Irish leather. A brick factory was also in operation at this time and weaving which survived until 1890.
The town had a very large military barrack in 1810 and the house in the west End owned by Mrs. Mahony was once an R. I. C. Barrack. The first Court-house was in Minor Row. It was sold to one Thomas Murphy and later bought by Denis Manly who now occupies it. The Court changed over to the Carnegie Hall which was built in 1910.
Wallis and McCarthy O'Leary refused to allow the Railway to pass through their lands - hence the distance of the railway and the Station from the town.
In Emancipation times Daniel O'Connell held at least one Repeal meeting at a place about a quarter of a mile from the present Railway Station. The town was well- known to him as he invariably stayed at the excellent inn which the town provided on his journeys by stage-coach from Derrynane to Dublin and London. The town in his time appears to have derived its chief support from travellers between Cork and Kerry and from the large barracks of infantry. The Liberator referred to the inn as having provided him with the warmest bed and the hottest chicken he got anywhere he went. He had a strong link with Millstreet as Mrs. McCarthy O'Leary was his niece.
Later, Michael Doheny, one of the '48 men, was befriended by Fr. Fitzpatrick and was sheltered by him when "on the run". Doheny's sister was a nun in the Millstreet Convent.
1 5 T . W. Freeman of Manchester University in a book "Pre-famine Ireland" published in 1957 has this: "The main route to County Kerry passes through Millstreet (2,162), a town placed beside a large demesne, which had flour mills and a brewery." p. 233