Saturday 23 February 2019

Heritage tour takes in number of mining sites

The group who were guided through the former mining sites of the Wicklow Uplands
The group who were guided through the former mining sites of the Wicklow Uplands
Dave Shepherd of Glens of Lead addresses the group
A short rest to view the Camaderry Mine workings

Myles Buchanan

Visitors had the special and unique experience of being guided through the former mining sites of the Wicklow Uplands while hearing the stories and first hand experiences of Glendasan miner, Robert Carter.

The overall route was researched by Glenmalure PURE Mile committee member and mountain guide Charles O'Byrne, who was assisted on the day by mountain leader Graham Connolly at the event which ran as part of Heritage Week. Local photographer Joe Haughton kindly assisted with taking photographs to capture and record proceedings, while medical backup was provided by Jim Nolan of Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue.

Several interested bodies are presently in collaboration with the Glenmalure PURE Mile group to have this 20km scenic route, which passes through some of Ireland's most spectacular upland scenery and links five former mining sites, recognised as an official walking trail.

Under glorious sunshine, the walkers assembled at the Glendasan mine site near Turlough Hill where Dave Shepherd of the local voluntary group 'Glens of Lead' gave an interesting and detailed introduction to the history of lead mining in the valleys of Wicklow and identified the various buildings and dressing floor in the old nineteenth century Glendasan mine site.

Former miner Robert Carter led the group through the Glendasan mine site which reopened during the war years and where he started work at 16. He captivated the group as he shared his recollections of what it was like to work in the mines in Glendasan. A minute's silence was observed at the memorial to the late James Mernagh, who sadly lost his life while working alongside Robert Carter in the Glendasan Mines on January 22 1957.

Two poems written by the late Charles McCoy, 'Glendalough Mines' and 'Fiddlers Row', were also recited as Robert identified the ruins of miners dwellings, which is said to have got its name because a musician lived in every house.

The group continued to the Miners Village in Glendalough and then on to Van Diemen's Mines high above the Upper Lake. At both sites Dave Shepherd gave a comprehensive account of mining in the area and identified all the remaining landmarks on the landscape which date from this industrial period in the mountains.

The walkers followed the old donkey mining trail down the hillside to reach the mine site at Ballinafunshoge, where Carmel O'Toole gave an account of the history of the mining operations there and also the story of the tragic landslide in March 1867.

Wicklow People