Mining in Wicklow

The Avoca mines at Cronebane
Wicklow County Council

From early iron mining adjacent to Croghan Kinsella at Ballard, to the Wicklow Gold Rush of 1798 in the Goldmines River through to the relatively recent cessation of copper mining at Avoca, Wicklow has probably the most extensive range of mining heritage in the whole country.  The geology at these sites has provided society with a wide range of minerals extracted from the ground.


The 19th century working of vein deposits of lead ores in the margins of the Leinster Granite is the main interest in mining heritage in Wicklow.  The valleys of Glendasan, Glendalough and Glenmalure each had working mines with both shafts and adits driven into the hill.  The short lived mine at Ballycorus in Dublin had a lead works built, and the mining Company of Ireland who operated most of the 19th century lead mines kept it supplied with ore from their Wicklow mines.


A phase of mining took place at Glendalough during the 1950’s.  Ex-miners still reside in the area and are working to promote their local mining heritage through the Glens of Lead Project. See  The Avoca Mines have a history over many centuries, probably including Bronze Age working and ended in the 1980’s.  Unfortunately, the latest phases of mining usually destroy evidence of earlier phases, and large opencast pits at Avoca are clear proof of that.  The later mining of this volcanic massive sulphide deposit was primarily whole rock extraction to process large volumes of low percentage ore.  The only remains of theses mines are the big open pits at East Avoca, Cronebrane and West Avoca with 19th century steam powered engine houses dotted amongst them.


The environmental standards of today are much stricter than in the past and efforts are being made to clean the mining sites and environmental concerns such as stabilising problems of acid mine drainage into the Avoca River.


See here for further information on mining in Wicklow



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