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March 2017 Rare Coal Mining Archive Donated to NUI Galway
NUI Galway has received the archive of Flynn and Lehany Coal Mining Company Limited as a gift from the Flynn family. Its archive, one of a very small number on mining in Ireland, is a significant source of information about the mining industry, State energy policy, the operation of the company and the social and economic history of the mines at Arigna.
The Flynn and Lehany Company operated the coal mine of Glackaundareagh, Altygowlan, in the central part of the Kilronan Mountain in Co. Roscommon from its foundation in 1949, and subsequently at Gubbarudda. The company worked on contracts with hospitals and other public buildings through the 1950s, and it was a supplier to the coal-burning ESB power station at Arigna after that station was built in 1958. The power station closed in 1989 and the site is now a quarry operated by Hillstreet Quarries Ltd.
The company operated at a time of great social change in rural Ireland, including rural electrification and the modernisation of Irish industry through the 1960s and 1970s. As the record of a commercial mining company in Ireland in the later twentieth century this collection is unique, and offers unparalleled insights into production processes, as well as financial management and the impact of the industry on the locality. There are only two other collections, both housed at the National Library of Ireland, relating to coal mining in Ireland and each of those relates to the nineteenth century. This archive is also of particular value in its inclusion of the mine owner’s experience.
The archive itself consists of a very full record of the industry, covering the establishment of the company, as well as material relating to production, personnel and distribution. There are reports and correspondence with the various regulatory bodies associated with mineral rights, as well as technical manuals for the machinery used in the plant. There is also material relating to the Hewitson and Lawder estates in the Arigna area. It includes details of lands purchased by the Flynn family from the estates under the auspices of the Irish Land Commission, some as early as the 1890s. Other highlights are records of tonnage, giving amounts mined per employee, and a letter from the company and workforce to John Hume making a donation to the Bloody Sunday Appeal Fund.
Father Tomás Flynn and Denis Flynn have acted on behalf of the Flynn family in generously donating the archive to NUI Galway. They are first cousins whose fathers, Thomas and Michael Flynn, were involved in establishing the company. Denis Flynn is Managing Director of Hillstreet Quarries Ltd and Fr Tomás Flynn is Parish Priest in Drumcong, Co. Leitrim, and author of a recently published book titled Thomas J. Devine and The Election of the Snows: The North Roscommon By-Election of 1917.
Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway values its archival collections as a major resource for the scholars of today and tomorrow. The donation of the Flynn and Lehany coal mining archive represents a very significant addition to our collections, and the University is much indebted to the Flynn family.”
Father Tomás Flynn commented: “Our family is delighted that NUI Galway will be the home of the Flynn and Lehany Archive and that this collection will be used for educational purposes.”
John Cox, University Librarian at NUI Galway, said: “The Flynn and Lehany archive adds to the regional coverage of our collections and is of great value given the enduring interest in the Arigna mines. It sits well with the John McGahern archive in particular.”