Friday, 13 February 2009

Tullyratty: Prospecting For Silver

I know I'm really just reproducing what is already available on the internet; however, in this instance, it is quite interesting. I allude to the County Down townland of Tullyratty, where I was dry-stone walling on Wednesday.

Without further ado, I have found an article by Habitas about prospecting at Tullyratty during the nineteenth century:-

"There have been very few mineral mines in Northern Ireland that were more than one or two man trial pits but the mine at Tullyratty was one. The mineral vein here was discovered in 1828 and by 1842 12 men were employed and there were ambitious plans to take on more. After an attempted revival in 1853 it appears that interest ceased and the mine was abandoned.

All that now remains is a ruined stone house 50 m north east of the farm with a stone shed upslope to the north, the mine house and the powder house respectively. There are also overgrown spoil heaps. There were two shafts, an inclined adit with a circular horse walk near the mine house and a vertical sinking 12 m deep across the road beyond the farm. The ore source was a crushed and fragmented vein of the local bedrock, a green, mineralised Silurian mudstone containing galena (lead sulphide), sphalerite (zinc sulphide) and small amounts of chalcopyrite (copper iron sulphide). Silver, normally found in galena, was almost non-existent here. The minerals were deposited from hot, deep brines circulating through the rocks in Carboniferous times around 300 million years ago. As one of the few sites preserving mining infrastructure, with spoil heaps still capable of providing good examples of the chief ore minerals, it deserves protection."

The National Trust could well be sitting on a silver mine!

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