Sunday, August 22, 2021

Tipperary Coalmines Heritage Week 2021

Tools from the Mines: Compressed Air 'Jigger' & Spanner

Today is the last day of Heritage Week 2021 where day by day we have brought you on a Virtual Field Trip of the Slieveardagh Coalfield. We have used a blog platform so everything we have put up and mostly shared through Facebook pages is there to stay and we plan to add to it. We have an interview with the last man down Foilacamin Shaft, and   'culm balls' and 'tallys' all to come soon.

We are revisiting the film T'was a Terrible Hard Work today, it was made in 2009. 

This award winning short film animated and directed by David Quin is about coal mining in the Slieveardagh Coalfield. It features the voices of local miners Michael Heaphy, Tony Ivors, Nicholas Morrisey, Joe McEnery and Sean Lyons  who shared some of the mining history and their memories. These men told these stories over a decade ago and this film is proof of the importance of continuing to collect and record our mining history. These men represent the mining community all of whom we wish to remember.


T'was a Terrible Hard Work Director David Quin 2009

And now our tour guide Michael 'King 'Cleere comes up out of the mines, but doesn't get past the local shop! Michael's interest in remembering and sharing the local history has educated and entertained groups since he lead our first Heritage Week tour in 2015. He still has more to tell...

There is always more to find out and we thank all the people who are following the blog and especially those who shared photographs and their memories during the week. If you come across any more history of the mines we can include it here.

Today our new messages include the memory 'miners as black as the coal, the miner who came to work for his brother, and the miner who locked the door on the last day and kept the key!

Thank you to Margaret Molloy who tells us 'Manys the evening I sat in the car waiting to see the wheel turning bringing up the Bogey out of the mines at (the) end of (the) shift full of miners as black as the coal. 
Margaret's great visual memory is of Gurteen. The offices and car park were up a hill from mine yard so she could watch the winch wheel for it's movement knowing that the miners would soon be up and finished their shift.

Kelvin O'Brien's father Terence was one of Tommy O'Brien of Ballingarry Collieries Ltd. brothers. Along with his other brother Frank, Terence came over from St Helen's in England. Terence had become an experienced miner in Sutton Manor and Bold Colliery. Kelvin moved with his family to Clashduff at the age of two living there at the mine entrance until the family moved to Clonmel. Kelvin shared a picture of Terence taken when he was working in St Helen's
Terence O'Brien 1932 -1998
This picture reminds us that miners were young men, often 'going down' when they were as young as 14 years old.

 And the Key.... Heritage week's theme is 'Open the Door to Heritage'!

Michael Moroney shared a fascinating story about a friend in Galway with an heirloom key.

'I have a friend who lives in Galway. His father, Tom Hickey, was from Ballingarry. His grandfather, also Tom Hickey, worked in the mines and on one of the occasions when the mines closed, his grandfather,Tom Hickey.... locked the door when it closed. 

The big key with which his grandfather closed the mines hung above the fireplace in Galway for years afterwards.... and is still in the Hickey family.... Tom Hickey died about 1963, aged 83. 

We don't know which mine he might have closed... Knockalonga in Coalbrook worked untill about 1910, so he would have been the right age to be working there. Ballingarry Coal Mining Company was working at Woodpit or Copper in 1898, again we don't know when it ceased operating so maybe Tom Hickey closed one or other of these mines. Do you know more about Tom Hickey? 

And finally, if there are any miners wives or children (or miners, or their neighbours) who would be interested in sharing their memories and stories of the mining times,  please contact us through either the blog or our Facebook page or at  
We also want to collect and share more photographs, and record the names and dates of the Miners of the Slieveardagh Coalfield.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Lickfinn Mine The Last Mine in the Slieveardagh Coalfield

Underground in Lickfinn. Patrick Keating's son Michael revisits in 2013.

Lickfinn mine was worked in the 1940's and reopened in 1978 and was the last commercial mine in the Slieveardagh Coalfield 

Lickfinn or Young's mine had been opened in the 1940's by Mianraí Teoranta. The ground had not been worked for over 30 years when Kealy Mines Ltd acquired the lease to that part of the coalfield and reopened the crank. 

Irish Times 26th July 1979

Kealy Mines was established in 1978 by Patrick Keating and Gilbert Howley, it's name being a combination of their two surnames. Patrick Keating had previously worked for Tommy O'Brien. Gurteen had closed six months before the Oil Crisis and it was hoped that the reopening of mines in the area would not only  bring employment but that the increased retail cost of coal would make it a profitable return to mining and bring some prosperity to the area.

Underground Lickfinn 
30 years earlier Mianraí Teoranta had worked the No 2 seam. Kealy Mines were going much deeper to the No 1 seam seam. They employed 50 people.

They reopened the original one track crank or entrance used by Mianraí Teoranta and dug deeper to the 19th Century Lickfinn drainage adit (underground tunnel) that still exits at Ballynonty.

The old shaft or crank (Mianraí Teiranta's mine entrance) went down 700'. It's crank was  about 40 degrees, while Gurteen's was much steeper at about 80 degrees. 
It took six or seven months to clear the old shaft out and make it safe. Work started in 1978 and the men received £10 a shift and there were three shifts, the day, evening and back shift and the men changed shift each week.

Michael Morrissey was one of the miners employed, and he got an unusual task in the first phase of reopening the mine. He recalls the event for us:
'We cleaned up the crank 700' down and we met the tunnel, a level road, 'The Level' they call it.' 

They met the Mining Company Of Ireland's Lickfinn Drainage Level or Adit, it  used gravity flow to take the water away from the workings.The level still drains water from all across the coalfield. Lickfinn shaft is a couple of miles away from the mouth of the adit at Ballynonty.
Lickfinn/ Ballynonty/ Duggans Drainage Level or Adit
They broke through the adit, dammed it on both sides, piped the water and carried on down at 45 degrees and had gone another 40' when bad weather came bringing a huge volume of extra water. It came along the level and up and flowed over the dams. The water was only draining slowly down the level, and now with the extra volume it was building up and coming back. 
Michael recalls 'we had three or four submersible pumps that pumped 10.000 gallons a minute- if you stood in front of it (the water) it would knock you.'
They made a 50' sump for the excess water but soon even with the help of the pumps it too was full.

'The underground staff said to the manager you'd be better off closing it down now and waiting for the good weather to come... It was going down slowly but it was blocked below at the level. There were breaks down in the level and no one could get to it so someone suggested I go down and come up through it, I had a good bit of experience with mining and was handy like, I'd fit through a place where a big lad would get caught.

So the next morning Michael Morrissey and his trusted friend Mickey Russell went on the mine lorry down to the adit or Duggans Level exit  at Ballynonty. 

We went into the level, and we went along and there was a big heap of stones down..... you'd get through, some of the O'Brien's men had got through, (at the time when Gurteen Mine was working) I could see where they had left their hand prints on the wall in the 'miar'- the stuff that comes off the water in a flood it was real yellow like mead. We had to plough through that for 2 miles ..... we got to the main breach and there was a rock down that I suppose was 30' long by 10'  thick, it came down and shut the level off... 

Michael realised that this was probably the blockage that was causing the water to back up at Lickfinn. The water meeting this rock had washed a deep shore or sump out behind it. 

'I had a rope on me and Mickey was back about 30' just in case I walked into a sump or something- he'd have something to pull back on.' 

So Mickey came up along and up onto the rock keeping hold of the rope and Michael went down into the water to the bottom of the sump. 

'I went down to the bottom of it and there were five props in it, mining props.. road legs and they were about 7' or 8' long and they were stuck in the shore, the five of them wedged in holding the water, and I pulled them out and the last one I pulled out took me into the shore with the force of water, it was all built back up along... millions of gallons.... I  caught the rope and I got out of it... 

The roaring water going through the tunnel filled it to the roof, the men sat on the rock for about an hour and a half recovering and watching the water level go down. They then carried on clearing all the way up to Lickfinn. The water was hitting them in the face, Michael was caught at the back of his neck and in the chest but they ploughed on and eventually came out at the new opening at Lickfinn. Now the water went down the adit and away from the workings. 

Mickey Russell and Michael Morrisey 2020

Michael says 'A badger wouldn't go up where we went but we had to stay going'  

This extremely hazardous task was recalled by Michael Morrisey in the modest way and with the great visual memory that the miners from Slieveardagh Coalfield have. Mining was a very unsafe and difficult job, the men looked out for each other and every day their workplace brought more unknown dangers.

The water from the new working was pumped up just 260' to the adit and did not have to be pumped up 960' to the surface. The mine was worked by Kealy Mines up until 1982, when the cost of pumping and the high proportion of duff or poor quality of coal used up their remaining capital and they ceased working the coalfield.

Michael 'King' Cleere worked here and describes how excess water got into the mine workings, and the problems it caused.

Flair Resources, a Canadian based public company trading as Tipperary Anthricite Ltd bough up the operation hoping that the rising cost of anthricite caused by the Oil Crisis would yield them good profits. Coal cost £10 a ton in 1971 rising to £160 a ton in 1982. 
By 1983 80 people had been employed with the help of  IDA funding, but flooding was becoming a major problem, and weeks were lost in down time. Their pumping equipment did not match the volume of water entering the mine.  In December 1983 Tipperary Anthricite went into liquidation, Flair Resources following in 1985. Large debts were left behind and and enquiry was established to examine it's commercial and financial state of affairs. 
Detail of Lickfinn Yard Plan 1985
In 1989 Emerald Resources acquired a State Mining Lease for 602 ha of the Slieveardagh Coalfield. The lease was for 20 years and they were based at Gurteen but after 2 years they were gone, ending any further commercial mining in Tipperary.

All the mine sites are on private property and are not open to the public. Annually during Heritage Week our Mining Interest Group have sought permission from the landowners to visit. Derelict buildings can be dangerous, please do not trespass. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Gurteen Mine

Gurteen Mine, Ballingarry Colliery provided work for men from the whole Slieveardagh area
Tommy O'Brien purchased the mining rights to the Slieveardagh Coalfield in 1952, he worked the mine at Clashduff until 1957 when he moved the operations to Gurteen, working there till 1973.

Tommy O'Brien's Ballingarry Colliery started in Clashduff and then moved to Gurteen 
The Clock house

In the 1960's there were 360 men working underground at Gurteen.
There was a day shift and an evening shift. Compressed air was piped underground to operate the equipment the miners used, it also provided some ventilation for the miners and there were air shafts with fans to help draw away the bad air. The only safety equipment the miners had were their helmets and battery operated lamps, otherwise they provided their own boots and clothing. The lamps were a big improvement on the old carbide lamps as the batteries would last a shift and did not go out unexpectedly. 

Gurteen 'Topside' Model 2018 The Old School Mining Museum

There were many more men working above ground or 'Topside'.These men and a very few women (working in the offices and at the weighbridge) supported the miners underground    

Jobs above ground included 
  • working in the office and weighbridge, 
  • in the lamp house where the batteries for the lamps were charged between shifts, 
  • at the saw house preparing wood for use underground, 
  • on the landing where the tubs or skip of coal or were emptied, 
  • the washery where the coal was cleaned of mud and stones were removed, 
  • the gantry where the coal was graded, 
  • the bagging yard, and then there was 
  • the compressor house, and the electrics and fitters stores, 
  • the oil shed, the garage, 
  • the boiler house and 
  • there were men who drove the tractors, loaders and dumpers around the site and also delivery lorries and the mine bus. 
Gurteen was a big operation when it was working . 

Gurteen site taken from the 'bank' in 2013 by Gerry Clear
The mining stopped at Gurteen in 1972, but the yard was used for storage and grading up until the end of mining in the coalfield in 1989.

Change of Shift
The miners had to walk down the crank or mine entrance at the start of their shift. 
Underground, in the mine they might have to walk more than a mile before they reached where they were working. The underground roads from Gurteen crank ran underground as far as the colliery at Earlshill. So the miners would take food down with them and have their breaks underground and not return to the surface until the end of the shift. There were small tubs or bogies that they would come back up in at the end of the shift.

Michael 'King' Cleere tell us about the history of and developments in Gurteen Mine.

Tragedy in Gurteen Mine

The six miners who were trapped underground when the mine flooded in 1964 
In 1964 mine manager Mr Gannon was trapped and drowned when the mine was breached by water from old mine workings. 
Electrician Christy Lawlor was manning the pumps at Foilacamin, an old 19th century mine with a vertical shaft. The water was continually pumped up and out of the workings, and when the breach happened the water stopped coming up from the pump and he rang over to the mines alerting them to the incident. 
Michael Hanrahan  was one of the trapped miners that night. 
They had been underground since 4.30 and at about 8.30 the miners congregated together and stopped for their tea and sandwiches, Mr Gannon was the manager on the evening shift and along with Tony Joy and Ned Hayes had a break with the others before going to see where the water was seeping through. 
Michael and his brother Danny went back to where they were working, Michael was up the 'topple', (the miners worked up into the seam so the coal could be dropped by gravity to the underground roads below) when there was a sudden bang and 'smoke' or dust. The whole road below them was flooded. 
Jim Maher, Jimmy Lawlor and fireman Michael Heaphy (a fireman was a miner who set the explosive charges to blast into new area of the mine) were also working above that road and managed to join the Hanrahans up where they were working. 
The road below had fallen in, and the water was backed up. Michael says they were in dread that the water would hit the roof and cut off the air but they did still have the air from the compressors they had on their machines. They thought they were doomed and said their prayers, and waited. 
After some hours they heard noise. Miners not involved in the incident had managed to let off some of the water and the trapped group were able to escape by holding onto the pipes and climbing over the debris from the fallen road to safety. 
When the water had breached the workings Mr Gannon, Tony Joy and Ned Hayes were washed along in the water, tragically Mr Gannon did not survive and was drowned. Ned Hayes was never included in the newspaper reports, but that evening he saved Tony Joy's life. Tony had been washed to a timber behind the road and Ned pulled him out. 
Michael says although the incident was devastating in the area they were working, there would never have been enough water to flood the whole of Gurteen as there was so much ground open. 
He finished recalling the evening with 'If no one had to go up the road that night there would have been nobody lost'. 
Michael and his brother Danny are the only two men involved in the flooding that night that are still alive. 
Patrick and Gladys Lydon interview the '4 Michaels', Michael Hanrahan on the right.
Michael generously recalled this terrifying and traumatic incident for Patrick Lydon in an interview in 2020 for Suir Vision a project Patrick co-ordinated on stories about the water that feeds the Suir river.

Recievership of Ballingarry Collieries

RTE covered the day the mine went into receivership.
Wally Mackey spoke to RTE that day and has collected and shared many excellent photographs and articles on Gurteen mine over the years. The television report can be viewed in the RTE online archive. (

Fire Underground

Philip Butler shared this newspaper cutting about the underground fire at Gurteen
The last major incident at Gurteen reported on was the underground fire in 1973.

 All the mine sites are on private property and are not open to the public. Annually during Heritage Week our Mining Interest Group have sought permission from the landowners to visit. Derelict buildings can be dangerous, please do not trespass. 

If you have any photographs or memories of Gurteen Mine please share them with us so they may be recorded as part of this important Tipperary Coalmining History.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Mianraí Teoranta: Ballynonty and Coppper Mines

Steam Trucks advertising 'SLIEVEARDAGH COALFIELD BALLYNONTY' delivered coal nationwide.

 Mianraí Teoranta (Irish for, literally, “Mines, Limited”) was established as a semi-State company in 1941. The company acquired rights to mine coal in Slieveardagh in 1941, selling the rights on in 1952.

Mianraí Teoranta opened mines first in Ballynonty and Lickfinn and later in Ballingarry

There is only the spoil heap (stone taken out of the ground to reach the coal and piled on the surface) and the ruins of the managers house still at the Ballynonty mine site.
Ruin of the 1940's manager's house at Ballynonty Colliery

The Mine Manager was Scottish engineer Mr McGlucky

During 1941 and 1942 the development of Ballynonty Mine was documented by Clonmel photographer M A Keeting. But for this we would have little recorded history of this era of mining in the area.
No 1 Mine, Office and Compressor House 18th February 1942

Office and Weighbridge November 1941

Transporting Temporary Buildings November 1941

This semi-State company was formed five years before Bord na Móna which also provided employment in the Ballynonty area. Both Ballynonty and Lickfinn  or Young’s Mine were worked during the War Years, but by 1948 these had become uneconomic. The whole operation then moved to the Copper Basin in Ballingarry

M A Keating also recorded the opening of the mine in Copper Basin in 1948.

Ballingarry (Copper/Clashduff) Concreting entry 8th December 1948

Ballingarry Concreting completed 31st December 1948

Ballingarry October 1948

Today Michael 'King' Cleere visits the site of a mine opened in 1941 by semi-state company  Mianraí Teoranta and then moves on as they did to Clashduff. 

Did any of your relations or neighbours work in Ballynonty in the 1940's?

We are collecting the names of families or men who worked in Ballynonty in the 1940's, as there is very little documented information on who worked there. 

Miners at Ballynonty, Slieveardagh Coalfield used carbide lamps.
We posted a photograph of two miners whom we believe worked at Ballynonty. 

Both Joe Hennessy and Paddy Robinson asked does anyone know the names of these two miners, we would like to be able to name these men too. 
The photograph is an important historic record as right up till the 1960's many of our miners started working in the mines when they were 14, working alongside their fathers or older family members. 

Any names for any of these men too please?
More miners photographed by M A Keating

M A Keating also took this photograph

We can be messaged publicly in the comments box at the end of each blog post, or through Facebook. We also have an email address if you have any names photographs, memories or stories to share about the mines from this time.

This is part of our really important local and mining heritage, if you are related to or knew someone who worked for Mianraí Teoranta please can you send us on their name and dates so we can record them for the future. We would also like to add any photographs of these men and their families to our resource of the local mining history.

Thank you to Gerry Clear who visited the Slieveardagh Coalfield with the Mining Heritage Trust in 2013. He has sent us a  collection of the photographs he took that day.

Broomhill 2013 Michael Hanrahan and visitors

Broomhill - getting a better look at the tunnel driven into the hill
All the mine sites are on private property and are not open to the public. Annually during Heritage Week our Mining Interest Group have sought permission from the landowners to visit. Derelict buildings can be dangerous, please do not trespass. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Copper Steeple


2013 Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland Field Trip. Leader Phelim Lally 

Slieveardagh Coalfield's Landmark Structure

This is a chinmey built in 1863, it is neither a steeple nor has anything to do with the mineral copper. It is in the townland of Copper. Ballingarry

Base of the chimney showing the quality of the stonework and skill of the stone masons 

It was built by local stone masons Edward and Michael Kenny from Curraheenduff, Coalbrook. They were known as 'Kennys the Masons'. 

The chimney is four sided and is 96' or 29.3 meters tall. The east and west faces of the chimney have arched entrances to it's interior where a furnace would have been installed. 

Today Michael 'King' Cleere visits Copper Steeple and shares it's surprising history.

There ground is solid below the chimney, no shaft was ever dug and there is no soot or burn marks on the interior of the chimney so no fire was ever lit.
The chimney was to be a ventilation shaft for the mines below the ground. Ventilation shafts worked like house chimneys. There would be a furnace inside the base of the chimney and a fire was kept lit in it. 

The hot air from the fire

  • would rise
  • create a draught
  • draw up the impure air from the mine workings below                                                        

Here is a short video using paper cutouts to show how a ventilation shaft works

All the mine sites are on private property and are not open to the public. Annually during Heritage Week our Mining Interest Group have sought permission from the landowners to visit. Derelict buildings can be dangerous, please do not trespass. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Earlshill Colliery

The Powder House, Earlshill, Slieveardagh Coalfield.

This cylindrical stone corbelled roofed building is the last example of a Cornish powder house at any coal mining site in Ireland, there is one at Glengowla Mines in Connemara but there they mined silver and lead.

The powder house, where the explosives were kept was always an important structure at a mine. It needed to be a secure waterproof building and if there was an accident with the gunpowder the stone building would hopefully reduce the damage caused by an explosion inside the building. 

Earlshill is in the centre of the coalfield

In 1844 the Mining Company of Ireland acquired leases to mine at both Ballyphilip and Earlshill in the centre of the Coalfield. The Earlshill lease was for 42 years.There was a good ratio of coal to culm.

Michael 'King' Cleere visits the site of Earlshill Colliery, this big venture in the centre of the coalfield.

In 1853 a new engine was bought for Earlshill. There is no ruin of the engine house but we are told that the engines in the Slieveardagh Coalfield were used to raise water from deeper parts of the mines to the adits allowing the water to drain off away from the working areas.

Old Mine maps or abandonment plans can tell us a lot about collieries:

 Abandonment plan map from 1886 

This plan detail show two mine pits (No1 and No2) offices, the engine house and the managers house. The roadways on the surface are a sand colour. The underground areas are marked in red and blue. The blue area is the bottom of the basin of the seam of coal that was worked with the underground roads shown as black lines. The two extensive drainage adits are marked as blue and red lines and both travel out from 'Pit No 2'. The deep or Lickfinn adit runs directly under the Engine House.

The Chimney at Earlshill

The chimney at Earlshill is cylindrical, it is believed that it was for ventilation of the workings below. The square indentations running up along it were where the wooden scaffolding that was used in its construction was anchored. 

All the mine sites are on private property and are not open to the public. Annually during Heritage Week our Mining Interest Group have sought permission from the landowners to visit. Derelict buildings can be dangerous, please do not trespass. 

Today we are enjoying sharing photographs with you:

Jimmy McCarthy Gurteen Heading to Work 1964
Thank you George McCarthy for sharing this photograph of Jimmy from 1964 wearing his helmet and his lunch  bag. 
Getting a photograph of a miner on his way to work is really special to the history of the mines because there are so few photographs taken (even now) of people in their working clothes. We all want to be photographed in our 'Sunday Best' but someone caught Jimmy on his way out to work!
If anyone else has any photographs from the past of the miners on their way to work (or in their Sunday Best) please can we see them too.

 Mining is in the Blood -The Kelly Men
Anthony Kelly is with us all the way on this blog '
Worked on coal with my dad in Lickfinn mines early 80's..... no messing around when you were with him' and sent us this great photo of father and son.

Again we want to add to our collection of  photographs of miners who worked in the Slieveardagh Coalfield. If there are any miners out there get a photograph taken and we will save it or if there is a bundle of photographs or an album of old photos please check and see if you have a photo or two to share.
Old School Mining Museum Exhibition Boards 2020

Monday, August 16, 2021

The Commons Colliery & Village

Historic 6" Map of the Commons Colliery and Village

The Commons Colliery is in the north of the Coalfield

By 1835 The Mining Company of Ireland began to acquire leases to mine coal in the north of the coalfield. It developed and worked The Commons Colliery till the late 1880's.

In 1837 Samuel Lewis documented that there were 100 newly built houses in the Ballingarry area inhabited chiefly by people connected with the mines. 

The population kept growing, the census of 1851 recorded that The Commons was the most populated village in the area.  The school built in 1877 for the local population of children many from mining families, is now used as a community centre and Old School Mining Museum and is a good two story building. 

Commons Colliery Engine House

The ruins of the engine house and two shafts, possibly one for bringing up coal and the other for pumping water and  are all still on the colliery site. 

Entrance hall of the Mine Managers House at the Commons Colliery
The Colliery managers house, living quarters, an office, a blacksmiths, and other small workshops or houses are also still here, mostly in ruin. 


Michael 'King' Cleere visits the site of The Commons Colliery. Here he observes that like Mardyke The Commons was also a mining village. 

The Commons Village

The Commons Village is home of The National Flag monument, the flag is raised every morning and lowered each evening. The Tricolour was first raised in the Commons in 1848. 

During the Young Irelanders' Rebellion of 1848, colliers from the Commons and Ballingarry joined the insurgency. In response to the situation the Mining Company of Ireland, fired a quarter of the workforce, and put the rest on half-time. 

The company's half yearly reports from 1842 on recorded that there was too great a quantity of unsold coal, more culm than coal was being purchased by farmers for lime kilns. In 1844 the miners were on a four day week with full pay but from 1846 to 1852 (during the great famine) there was very little demand for coal. The miners involvement in the Young Irelanders' Rebellion gave the Mining Company of Ireland an excuse to fire a quarter of the workforce and reduce the remaining workers hours. It seems that they did not need the miners to work as they had more product than they were able to sell. In 1853 Guinness's bought coal from the Mining Company of Ireland and the Colliery and miners did work on, with the Commons Colliery abandonment plan dated 1887. 

Men from the Commons Village worked in the Slieveardagh Coalfield right up to the closing of the last mine. The Commons village prospered with the miners pay keeping several shops and pubs, a petrol pump, a  small cinema and a local bakery all operational alongside the village blacksmiths forge and local creamery. 
At the close of the last mine many of miners then traveled daily to work in Silvermines at the other end of the county or found work in England. 

All the mine sites are on private property and are not open to the public. Annually during Heritage Week our Mining Interest Group have sought permission from the landowners to visit. Derelict buildings can be dangerous, please do not trespass. 

More interesting information and images were shared with us yesterday:

Might your family have lived in the first mining Village in Ireland?

In 1848 these families were occupying the houses in Mardyke village: Carroll, Condon, Delaney, Gleeson, Gorman, Hackett, Heffernan, Hogan, Hunt, Morris, Pemberty, Power, Russell, Rochford, St John, Stapleton, Sweeney and Walsh,

More information can be found on
The website which was originated by Bill Martin and has a comprehensive and really well researched section on the history of the mines in the area. 

Bill also shared the story of Mardyke with, look it up and type 'tipperary miners' into the search bar. Here you will find the full list of the 'head of household' for 30 of the 33 houses in Mardyke village.

While these families were living and working in the southern end of the coalfield, a young boy living at the northern end would go on to be famous worldwide. 
Aileen Cooke told us that 'a great grand uncle of mine......  born in Knoctatoreen near Grange'  was Richard Suthcliffe, he worked in mines in Ireland before going on to England and in 1892 famously invented the first coal cutting machine. He is a great son of the area.

And Kelvin O'Brien sent us on this picture of another useful invention!

Telephone used in Gurteen Mine 1957 to 1973
Kelvin tells that there was one phone at the pit bottom and some on the various roads. All the phones had to connect to the switchboard overground, manned by someone who would take the calls and make the connection to another part of the mines for the caller.
The ear piece is on the left of the body of the phone and the caller would speak into the receiver on the front of the phone. 

Andy Lawlor who started work as an apprentice electrician in 1964 in Gurteen and carried a phone with him underground remembers that at that time that Gurteen was one of just eight phone lines in the whole of Balingarry. Times have changed!

Remembering Patrick Keating and Kealy Mines Ltd.

  Michael and Paul Keating At the beginning of February Michael and Paul Keating visited the Commons and spent the afternoon in the Old Scho...