I.A.Recordings first visited Glengowla silver-lead mine near Oughterard, County Galway in Ireland in 1997 to explore it before it was opened as Ireland's first show mine.
The mine is owned by the Geoghegan family who have done an astonishing amount of work to stabilise the surface, pump-out the mine, build steps to give access to the upper workings, and repair the buildings.
On the surface, the powder magazine, blacksmith's workshop and the agent's cottage have been restored and contain items rescued from the mine. A hand windlass and a horse-gin have been constructed.
The mineral vein was discovered when loose rocks of galena were found just below the surface of farm land.
Mining started in 1851 and was suspended in 1865. During that short 14 year period, 545 square metres was stoped to produce 390 tonnes of lead containing 28 kilograms of silver.
Today the mine is rich in what was left behind by the miners. It has a scintillating variety of minerals: marble, dolomite, quartz, calcite, barite, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, lead and silver of course, and very rare blue/green octahedral fluorite.
Vugs large and small are lined with gleaming crystals. Even professional geologists are impressed, as you will see if you watch the DVD!
Underground, many artefacts can be seen, including ladders, pump rods and pipes, pulleys, windlasses, guide chutes and timbers.
The cast iron rising main still reaches the sump. Beside it are pitch pine pump rods which were driven by a waterwheel on the surface fed by leat from Lough Agraffard. The plunger of the main pump is one of the artefacts on display in the restored Captain's cottage.
In a side chamber is an intact windlass above a winze sunk to explore how deep the ore went.
The DVD "Glengowla" was completely re-made in 2009 to show the progress that had been made since 1997.
It includes an underground trip down to water level guided by Keith Geoghegan and a look at the surface remains.
Glengowla mine, set in the wild and beautiful scenery of Connemara is open to the public. There are underground tours and surface displays - it is well worth a visit. You can even try panning for gold!
Open daily 18th March - 31st October, 10:00-18:00, last tour 17:00
(Mine open outside these dates by prior arrangement only).
Glengowla, Glengowla East, Oughterard, Co. Galway, Ireland
Irish grid reference: M 086 417.
GPS coordinates: N 53.4181 W 9.3732
This short video introduction to the mine uses excerpts from the "Glengowla" DVD - it is NOT the full production.
The images on this page are taken from the video.