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

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