Allihies copper mines, in west Co. Cork. There are five figures in the foreground. These include three apparently local people: a man wearing a cap resembling a tam-o'shanter and knee breeches, and two women in shawls, one seated on a rock. A couple going down the road may be tourists: the woman is wearing a bonnet. The landscape is dotted with industrial buildings with tall chimneys. In the centre there is a larger establishment and cluster of buildings. Other structures may be dwellings. To the right are mountains and in the middle and far distance, islands. There are several sailing boats on a calm sea.
Inscribed in Image
|Keywords(s)||Bays (Bodies of water), Boats, Buildings, Copper, Hats, Industrial buildings, Islands, Men, Mining, Mountains, People, Seas, Shawls, Ships, Women|
|Published / created||1839|
|Travel Account||Rambles in the South of Ireland|
|Print or manuscript|
|Location of image in copy||Vol. 1, facing p. 74|
|Source copy||James Hardiman Library, National University of Ireland Galway Special Collections: 914.190481 CHA|
This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.
|Rights||James Hardiman Library, NUI, Galway|
Related text from travel account
|After we passed the highest point of the ascent, we had a magnificent view over that part of the Atlantic of which the mountaineers were deprived yesterday by the fog. Dursey Island and Blackball Point, which has a tower upon it, form one side, and Sheep's-head the other, of the entrance to Bantry Bay. The Skilligs (with which we were destined to become better acquainted afterwards) made their appearance in the extreme distance. They are two remarkable rocks, which seem to be nearly similar in shape, and stand about ten or twelve miles out to sea. Before us were the Hogs, two rocky islands, [p. 75] apparently lying just at the mouth of the Kenmare river; beyond was Darrynane Bay, with its lofty mountains. Then, nearer, Cooleagh Bay, which is the summer harbour of the mines. On the side of the rocky eminence before us were the works of the mines—the engines and cottages of the miners scattered irregularly about. Of this extended view, which gives a map-like idea of the south-west of Ireland, the annexed sketch will convey some, but I fear an imperfect notion. We had a note of introduction to the Protestant chaplain of the mines, and we found him most civil and attentive to us. The mines are now far from being so productive as formerly. The Company by which they are worked is at present going to great expense in a search, hitherto unavailing, after a new vein— and if the assertion of one of the Captains be correct, they are now losing money. This account, however, is at variance with the stated produce; formerly it amounted to 600 tons a month; now it averages 350 tons. Copper ore is worth £9 a ton; but the purchasers always take off 2½ per cent. a ton, to cover their risk: consequently the real price is £7. 10s. a ton;— this, at the former rate of production, would [p. 76] give £54,300 a year; and at the reduced supply, would still give £31,500 a year. An eighth goes amongst the owners of the fee—four, I think, in number; formerly the principal one received £4000 a year. The Company's shares amount to 64, which are divided, I was told, between five proprietors, of whom Mr Puxley [in margin, a manuscript pencil note: of Tenby], whose place we passed to-day, is the chief. The works, it is said, employ one thousand people. Girls, who attend the washing of the ore, get 3½d. a day; boys, 6d.; men, from 1s. to 1s. 4d. Miners work by task-work;—a gang undertakes a piece of work at so much per ton, the price being fixed by a master, the ore to produce 10 per cent., to ascertain which an assay-office is established. There are four captains ; the men are paid monthly, and the calculation is made so as to give the men who handle powder about 1s. 4d. a day, the others about 1s. Many Cornish miners and their families are established here, and the English and Irish, notwithstanding a difference of religion, agree perfectly well together. It is said that for ten years there has not been a quarrel among the workmen, owing to a rule, which is strictly enforced, that whoever quarrels is immediately dismissed. We [p. 77] visited the school, where the children looked very comfortable; the girls with their hair very coquettishly braided and arranged. As we ascended afterwards, we met two little Cornish children, one of whom answered "Tolerably well" to every question.—"How do you get on at school?"—"Tolerably well." "How do you like work?"—"Tolerably well." "Can you read?"—"Tolerably well." "This road is intolerably steep?"—"Tolerably well." And so on, still the same answer.
The mine is now about 110 fathoms deep, and they are working it deeper, the vein occupying a narrow space. Five steam-engines are employed: the first we visited works the crushing machine and the pounders. Over the pounded ore water is passed, the ore is then sifted, and after a number of successive washings, the dross is separated. The situation of the head Captain, as the principal miner is termed, is worth about £300 a year, which includes his house and perquisites. Our reverend guide was extremely polite, but I thought rather too fond of steam-engines, of the construction of which I must confess myself very ignorant, although I cannot help seeing the revolution they are ef-[p. 78] fecting everywhere and in every thing. After having inspected the first works, we ascended to another engine, which is much higher up the mountain; and on our way we saw some curious clefts in the rock, which had been made by former excavations, and travelled over heaps of ore, the refuse of former works. The Captain observed that as far as his experience went, in Irish mines the richest part of the vein is near the surface.
The upper engine is used for pumping water out of the excavation; near it is the vent for the escape of the smoke from another engine, which is at work in the mine, about 160 feet below the surface. To pay this engine a visit, and thus to see something of the interior, was our next object; for which purpose we re-descended. The passage by which we entered has a rail for bringing out the ore, and it also serves as a channel for the exit of the water pumped up. We had a wet and dirty walk. Stooping low, and creeping along the side, to avoid the water, we advanced to the steam-engine; we then diverged into a side gallery, to see the men at work. By means of ladders, the lower levels are attained; but as we were not properly equipped, none of my party attempted to descend. [p. 79] On our return, we visited some of the cottages, and with all my partiality for Irish peasants, I could not but see the striking superiority in point of cleanliness of the cottages belonging to the English miners.
After leaving the mines, we proceeded by a short cut to the top of the pass, as the road was too steep to allow of our remaining in the carriage; we were accompanied by a poor fellow, who just before our arrival had lost his thumb, from an accident with a steam-engine; he however will receive pay until he is able to return to his work; this is done by an arrangement, under which a small deduction is made from the pay of those employed. At the top of the pass, we joined the carriage, but the rapidity of the descent made us all pedestrians again, and we reached Castletown after a very agreeable excursion, just before dark. Dr. A—— came to us in the evening, and we arranged a water expedition to see some caves near the mouth of Berehaven harbour, before our departure to-morrow. [Vol. 1, p. 74-79]