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The SCMC in Ireland

Mining History Feature

Tigroney engine house

Background

The compilation "The SCMC in Ireland" follows members of the Shropshire Caving and Mining Club as they explore some of the mining heritage of Ireland, this "mining gem of a country" in 1995 and '96, above & below ground.

The extensive workings near Avoca, Co.Wicklow include a magnificent Cornish beam engine house for William's shaft of the Tigroney Mine.

Ballycorus lead smelter chimney

Ballycorus smelt mill chimney is a prominent landmark on a hilltop south of Dublin and can be seen from the port area.

To try and minimise the effect of fumes from the lead smelter at the foot of the hill 'poisoning' the ground. A long stone-built flue was built up the hill from the smelter to the large chimney at the top. The idea being that toxic material like lead would condense on the sides of the flue and not reach the top of the chimney. Periodically people would enter the flue and scrape the condensate off the walls to recover any deposited lead - not a nice job!

Roller crusher at Glendalough

Examining the Glendalough roller crusher

It is unusual to find remains as complete as this on old mine sites. This roller crusher was made in Llanidloes, Wales and was probably used for re-working the dumps of the nearby lead mine at Glendalough.

In operation ore bearing rocks would be dropped between the rolls, where it would be crushed into small lumps. The size of the lumps could be controlled by setting the gap between the rolls. Some 'give' was necessary in the system to prevent the rolls from breaking, so they were usually held at the required distance by powerful springs

Inside Shalee lead mine

Entrance to the underground workings at Silvermines

At Silvermines and Shalee in Co. Tipperary are 19th & 20th century engine houses, ore dressing buildings and impressive open stopes where lead was mined near the surface.

Following a campaign by local people, these remains have been preserved and a mine trail created around the area.

Mountain Mine, Allihies

Mountain mine, Allihies

Allihies, Co. Cork is justly famous for its many Cornish engine houses set in the ruggedly beautiful scenery of the Atlantic coast. Mountain Mine engine house is perched precariously beside a cavernous open stope and until recently was in great danger of falling in!

The buildings stand out dramatically on the side of the Slieve Miskish mountains. In 1862 they housed the steam plant driving Ireland's only man engine - a system of vertical rods with platforms able to lift men from the depths of the mine.

Ross Island copper-age excavation

Tara Zinc mine, Radio controlled 14 tonne loader

Irish mining dates back to at least the Copper Age, and hollows in the rock made by fire-setting and wooden or bone tools can still be found at several sites, particulalry on Ross Island, Co. Killarney.

Metals are still extensively mined in Ireland. The largest Zinc mine in Europe is Tara in Co. Meath. Massive diesel powered machinery like this loader with its 14-tonne shovel is at work deep underground. The machine is driven into the blasted rock pile from the stope by radio control to allow the driver to remain safely in the roadway.

Tara Zinc mine, tube mill

Tara has a large processing mill recovering Zinc and Lead from the rocks.

The plant includes large rod and ball mills which contain, as the name suggests iron rods or balls that crush the material to a fine powder as the large drum revolves.

Other plant includes a Jaw crusher, flotation cells (which separate useful minerals from gangue or waste material by taking advantage of differences in their hydrophobicity, which makes the selective separation of the minerals economically feasible) and vacuum filters.

Exploring Derryginagh baryte mine

When exploring underground it is important to have the right kit for the job.

The Shropshire Caving and Mining Club is well equipped and trained to explore mines underground, but this old baryte mine at Derryginagh in Co. Cork was a bit of a tight squeeze!

Find out more about the Shropshire Caving and Mining Club on their web site: www.shropshirecmc.org.uk

The images on this page are taken from the video - "The SCMC in Ireland".

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