An Industrial Venture

 

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SECTION 4
Title 1
Title 2
Title 3
Title 4
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Title 6

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The nineteenth century mining at Ross Island was conducted according to the general principles of Cornish mining. The rich bed of copper ore in the Western Mine was worked by sinking vertical shafts to a depth of up to 16 metres. Underground tunnels were driven out from these shafts to reach the mineralised ground where the ore was extracted. When the mine was finally abandoned in 1829, there were some 50 mine shafts across the site. On the eastern side, the Blue Hole continued to be worked as a large open-cut mine in this period

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  Mine Buildings, 1829 Ross Island.

The size of the workforce at Ross Island rose from 150 to around 500 at different times between 1804-10, making an important contribution to the local economy. The mining expertise was provided by Wicklow, Cornish and Welsh miners, who worked with labourers drawn from the Killarney area, under the direction of the manager William White.                                                   

One visitor described the operations here in 1808:

'The ore at Ross Island is raised by small gangs, each consisting of 2-3 persons, who employ labourers to perform the different manual operations; these people are paid from 30-39 shillings per ton, and find their own tools. Carting costs five pence per pound, gunpowder two shillings and two pence, and candles one shilling. The Company furnish buckets and horses to draw up the ore and keep the mine clear of water...The whole works employ 500 men, and during the last four years were attended with an expense of 50,000.'

The copper ore raised from these shafts was taken to 'bucking sheds' for crushing and hand-sorting. The richer fragments were separated from poorer ore and then finely crushed and washed in the 'jigging house' to extract copper minerals. The final ore concentrate was bagged and conveyed by land carriage to Tralee, from where it was shipped to Swansea for smelting.

         

Mine Shafts and dam, 1829 Ross Island

 

An Industrial Venture