After the gold rush... another gold rush
With the price of gold spiking in recent years, gold exploration across Ireland has ramped up with renewed vigour, with exploration companies eager to tap any viable seams that lie hidden across the country.
Over the past couple of weeks the Connemara Mining Company awarded a number of licences to explore potential seams in Donegal, with the border counties widely cited as a region were an economically viable deposit could be unearthed.
Wicklow also remains an area of intense interest, with IMC Exploration awarding contracts to scour promising parts of the county for workable seams earlier this year. And although such a source has yet to be found, the possibility remains very much alive.
'Wicklow would be one of the better places to look,' Gerry Stanley, Head of Minerals with the Geological Survey of Ireland, on the prospect of finding the precious metal in amounts worth extracting.
Wicklow and gold go back a long way, with tantalising flakes washed down from the mountains since time immemorial. Prospects in Avoca were investigated in the 1980's to no avail.
'The price of gold went through the roof in the latter part of the 2000's and so there was renewed interest in looking for gold,' Gerry claims.
'There has been gold found in County Wicklow in the past; the Gold Mines River in the south of the county was the scene of a gold rush in the late eighteenth century.
'It [gold] was found in the river, so people have always been looking for where it came from. Where is the mother load? There have been various theories put forward to explain where the gold came from but nothing conclusive has been found.
'There was some exploration carried out in and around the old copper deposits in Avoca that found a very small gold deposit which wasn't economic to work.'
If this 'mother load' was discovered, the implications for the county could be tremendous, generating considerable employment opportunities and economic activity to the area.
'Employment is the main benefit it would bring to the local community,' Gerry insists. 'On the national side of things, it would provide increased income to the state.'
'Gold deposits are rare,' he laments. 'It's going to take an awful lot of exploration to discover a gold deposit, and I think we're a long way from finding a deposit that could be developed.'
However, the interest that Wicklow has drawn from exploration companies in recent years - IMC remain adamant that workable deposits can be found - is testament to the possibility that its rocks could one day yield a sizable seam, one that could benefit the Garden County for many years to come.