Silver Mines

Artist(s) : Thomas Dineley (Draughtsman)

Red and sepia ink wash drawing of an early modern mining landscape at Silvermines, Co. Tipperary. There are two inns in the foreground. Three horsemen riding between them are represented by a fragment of a printed plate pasted upon the drawing. Further back are the entrances to two mines, one old and one new. Left of these are the ‘melting houses’, or foundry, with three furnaces, close to a water source. Mountains and hills occupy the background. Smudges of red in the sky suggest emissions from the foundry. The main features of the scene are identified by letters spelling THOMAS D K and an accompanying key. The drawing is enclosed within an oval border.

The Henry Pretty referred to in Dineley’s account is Henry Prittie of Dunalley castle, near the mines, who owned the land, but not the mineral rights, which belonged to James Hamilton of Nenagh (Cowman). He was the grandson of Colonel Henry Prittie, a Cromwellian planter who was High Sheriff of Carlow in 1654, and whose grant of 5,900 confiscated acres in Co. Tipperary was confirmed in 1678. If Dineley is correct, around the time of his visit Prittie had recommenced mining, somewhat illegally.

Archaeological Survey of Ireland, at nos TN026-090----, TN026-058001- and TN026-058001-. Accessed 24.02.2018.

John Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire, 1865.

Des Cowman ‘The Silvermines – Sporadic Working: 1289-1874’, Tipperary Historical Journal, 9 (1988), 96-115.

Inscribed in Image

  • Caption within boundaries of image – Silver Mines
  • Text within boundaries of image – [lettering]
  • Text outside of boundaries of image –
    H. The Work of the Mine
    T. The melting houses
    S. The Water that turnes ye Wheele
    K. A new Work beginning 1681.
    O. The new Inn at the mines
    M The old Inn ye signe ye holy Lamb
    A. The Road to Limerick
    D. The Mountaines.

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Wash drawings
Subject(s) Cities and towns
Geographical Location
  • Silvermines - Town or city
  • Tipperary - County
  • Munster - Province
Keywords(s) Birds, Buildings, Horses, Industrial buildings, Lands, Mining, Mountains, People, Silver, Taverns (Inns)
Colour Handcoloured
Dimensions 8 cm x 6.3 cm
Published / created 1681

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Observations in a Voyage through the Kingdom of Ireland
Print or manuscript Manuscript
Location of image in copy p. 99
Source copy National Library of Ireland MS 392
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

From Roscrea to
The Silver Mines twelve miles. These are at the Foot of High Mountaines, as touch’t off on the other leafe
[p. 99]
[image: Silver Mines]
The silver mine was found out by an English man a little before the late Rebellion, who observing a sheep killed in the shambles to be extream yellow, enquired where it grazed, who told him upon the aforedescribed mountaines, whereupon he concluded in that Place to be, and discovered the Silver mine. The Soyle is short and crumbling, not a clay though of a clayish colour in some almost of a bright yellow in others darker; it abounds with Yellow Oker and Umber, which burnt in a crucible turnes to a red this the Proprietor sells as such; Whilst it produced silver it was held by Pattent. It is now possessed by Henry Pretty Esqr who onely rayseth Lead Concerning the Veines, the flakey and shineing is best for silver, the glittering and sparkey next, but the white crusted with Oker is the best for Lead, this last the Workers in the Mine call Catts Teeth and with a blow pipe Cole and Candle will melt into plain lead, it is very weighty and resembles white enamell or glass. The melting houses and Mill marked with T. hath a large Water Wheele by whose motion a Great Forge bellows [p. 100] is lifted up and blown.
There was a want of Water which caused the worke to stand still, because of the Dryness of the season, The best time for digging the mineral, though not for working it up into Metall, [blank]
From thence to Limerick is [blank] miles.
The Dismall blackness of the Melting-house Utensills and Workmen of the place puts me in mind of a paragraphe or two of Spencers, in his Faerie Queen Canto VII page 89 Who ingeniously describes a Workhouse for Melting of Oare thus, in his ancient Termes and Spelling. Parag. 35 & 36. where Mammon led the Elfin Knight […]
[pp. 98-100]
Silver Mines