Saturday, January 8, 2022

100 years ago, Slieveardagh Miners in the Transport Union Newspaper


This article on the miners of the Commons and Ballingarry was published on the 7th of Janurary 1922
  Thank you to Terry Dunne of Peelers and Sheep who tweeted this article from 100 years ago. 

Transcription of the article in the Transport Union Newspaper the 'Voice of Labour'

All power to the Soviets. The miners here, whose patience is exhausted waiting for the much-lauded mining company to come to their relief, have bravely taken into their own hands the working of some of the mines. All power to them. They are the first of the boys of sweet Slieveardagh to do the proper thing- namely, to keep themselves and their wives and children from dying with hunger and want when the way and the means were at their hands. Those fine Irishmen are miners who can work, and are willing to work, still work is denied to them. What are they to do? If the bloated capitalist was to answer, he’d tell them “ Wait until the Free State would function, and then there would be plenty of work for all in mines and factories.” But the bloated, idle parasite, while giving such an answer wouldn’t feel the want of anything himself. Go on, brave workers of the Commons and Ballingarry, work the mine. What the Lord put at your feet for your benefit, stoop down and pick it up. Allow no enemy to stop you without knowing the reason why? Where does the Free State come in if men are still to be slaves? But we won’t be slaves. He who would be free himself must strike the blow: labour’s arm alone can labour free. Up, the Commons’ Soviet and the O.B.U.!

The O.B.U (One Big Union) was a radical labour union formed in Western Canada in 1919 and dissolved in 1956. 

 As was the way, the arrival of the new Free State did not improve the life of the miners, post first World War it was recorded that there was no dynamite and commercial mining had stopped. During the 1920's the small basset mines became the dominate way of reaching coal in the Slieveardagh hills for the next twenty years until the arrival of the State mining Company Mianrai Teoranta. See website Mines Sites / Virtual Tour page Mianrai Teoranta 1941- 1952

Another record of the Commons and Ballingarry miners being in difficulty was in 1848. This piece is from the website Mines Sites / Virtual Tour page The Commons Colliery 19th Century

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. 

Does anyone have any information about a miners strike at Copper Colliery in the late 1950's probably 1957

The strike was broken on the eve of a settlement that would have provided for safety measures including masks and wet boring. The two Union leaders (brothers from The Commons) elected to represent the striking miners were blacklisted and no longer had jobs in the reopened mines. They and their families emigrated in the early 1960's. Sadly both men died young from 'Coal Mine Dust Lung Disease'. Does anyone have any recollections of this strike or any records, reports or newspaper articles from the time, any information will be added to the website

Look in the Related Projects page of to find out about a project from 2017 The Commons Ghost Village all about the Commons Village in the 1960's


Saturday, January 1, 2022 website goes live!

Welcome to the launch of the Tipperary Coalmines Website created on behalf of the Slieveardagh Mining Interest Group. We have been working on projects relating the mining in Slieveardagh for ten years. These years saw us gathering information, holding get-togethers and culm dancing sessions;  working on numerous and varied projects enabling ex-miners to record and share their stories of the mines, hosting field trips to the now disused mine sites and making many pots of tea. We have met the most honourable, entertaining, interesting, intelligent, loyal and memorable people since we started on this journey. To say we were happy to have undertaken this project is an understatement. We feel honoured to have had the opportunity to work with such great people, and about this most important heritage. We hope you will enjoy journeying with us and that you too will share our admiration of the brave miners of the Slieveardagh Hills.

Margaret (Grace) O' Brien and Katy Goodhue.

The Mine Sites/Virtual Tour page uses the material from the National Heritage Week county award winning blog and Virtual Tour of the Slieveardagh Coalfield that received funding from the Heritage Council Community Heritage Grant Scheme. Each site included has a history of that site, images, maps and the Michael ‘King’ Cleere  short site specific video. For those of you who followed the Heritage Week blog there are two new pieces ‘A Short History’ of the mining activity from the 1820’s to the 1980’s, and the visit to Foilacamin Colliery and Mine Shaft in the north of the coalfield. The Foilacamin video features Michael and Andy Lawlor, the last man we know to have gone to work at the bottom of the Foilacamin Shaft.

The Gallery page allows you to scroll through a selection of photographs taken at gatherings and events run at and from The Old School since 2012. There is a page of images of   Artefacts from the Old School Mining Museum, which will see more items added and a Genealogy page with an introduction to how to go about finding your ancestors, miners or not by geneaologist Noreen Maher of hiberniaroots

All three of these pages are just a start and will be added to over time. The genealogy page is a place that histories of Slieveardagh miners and mining families can be stored and that individuals who have researched families can share their findings.The first additions to the genealogy page will include the interesting history of Slieveardagh native Richard Sutcliffe miner and inventor of the first underground belt conveyor. And we'll blog to let you know when we have it in the web page! 

There is a page featuring Related Projects that have either been undertaken in the Old School or have been influential in the development of the website. Here you can watch ‘T’was a Terrible Hard Work’, or find out more about the specially prepared map on the Coalmining Heritage of Slieveardagh.

The website was designed by Sarah Loh of White Setter Design. We thank Sarah for all the work she put into the development of the site and especially for her creative solutions to all the requests made during that time.

If you want to see one of Sarah’s clever solutions look at Dr Richard Clutterbuck’s map Slieveardagh Coal Mining Heritage. This map was specially prepared for the Old School Mining Museum in 2020 and when we wanted to include it in the website we asked Sarah for a way of zooming in on the map and she came up with the magnifying glass effect!

We are very grateful to Tommy and Alma Cooke of Ballincurry Windfarm who followed the Heritage Week blog project and have given sponsorship towards preparing the website, thus ensuring that this really important history is recorded for the future. Roisin O’Grady, Tipperary Heritage Officer also helped us realise this project with support through the Creative Ireland Programme.

The Covid pandemic has impacted on the whole world, and we have really missed all the in-person events we took for granted. Our answer was to try and find other ways to connect and are pleased that this website will be there for the future and easy to access but still wait and hope for a time when we can meet in person safely again

Please enjoy visiting this new website, it will be added to it over time and we’ll let you know through the blog when new material is added.

And finally, The Slieveardagh Mining Interest Group wish all a Happy New Year. 

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...