Mountain Mine Minach Mór
The Mountain Mine copper vein was discovered in 1813. It started as an open cast mine, following the copper bearing quartz vein, as can be seen in the huge gaping holes in front here. The Miners attacked the hard quartz with hammer, chisel and gun powder. In the early years the mining was completely reliant on manpower. Buckets with ore were man-handled from the depths and hand crushing and sorting took place at the surface just beside the open cast. Women and children took a big part in this laborious and painstaking process, the evidence of which can be seen in the resulting rubble around the site here.
The first engine house was erected in 1830, evidence of which can be seen on our left. Known as the “North Engine”, its role was to pump water from the depths to enable deeper and deeper mining.
These engine houses, which where the key to the success of this vast mining enterprise, housed the magnificent steam engines which where developed in Wales and Cornwall to serve the mining industry all over the world.
The large engine house in front of us is the “Man Engine House” which was erected in 1862 to operate the newly invented system of lowering and lifting the miners to and from the mines. This engine house is very unique, being the only man engine house in Ireland and one of only a few surviving in the world. In 2004 the Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland undertook extensive and vital conservation work on this building.
Mountain mine was the most productive mine in Allihies and from its opening in 1813 was in continuous production until 1882 when the mine closed, having reached a depth of 421 meters below surface. Approximately 280 meters of this is below sea level.