Wicklow Gold Rush

'Gold Mines County of Wicklow' by Thomas Sautell Roberts
National Museum of Ireland

The gold rush in 1795 was located at the appropriately named Gold Mines River which flowed from Croghan Kinshelagh to join the Aughrim River near Woodenbridge.  The gold rush was a result of forestry works along the banks of the river which resulted in a rush of ‘peasants’ to the area in search of gold in the river beds and banks.  Frantic digging activity along the head of the valley at Ballinagore Bridge transformed the area. 


People were drawn from near and far in the prospect of finding a large nugget which could make a person’s fortune in one go.  The largest reported nugget found here was of 22 oz and was gifted to King George III in 1796.  It was rumoured that he had it made into a snuff box.  The gold rush was quickly brought under official bureaucratic control backed by a militia force.  This structured approach yielded more gold in the area with geologist Thomas Weaver overseeing operations.  It seems likely that the Ice Age gathered up residual gold from the weathering of an iron deposit on the Ballycoog-Moneyteige ridge and redeposited it in the Gold Mines River valley.


The book ‘Gold Frenzy’ by Peadar McArdle, former Director of the Geological Survey of Ireland, published by Science Spin tells all the stories in this remarkable lost history.  

See here for more information on ‘Gold Frenzy’ 



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