The Arigna Mining Experience is a unique community inspired initiative which records 400 years of mining history in the area. Coal mining provided much needed work in a region of poor agricultural land. Regular employment was uncommon in the province of Connaught in the 19th and 20th centuries, and it is often said; “There was money in Arigna when there was no money elsewhere”. The industry sustained the community of Arigna down through the centuries and helped them through the horrors of the famine years (1845 to 1852).
The possibility of developing a mining visitor centre in Arigna, Co. Roscommon first emerged when the last coal mines closed in 1990. This development was driven by the local community with the major support from a number of agencies within County Roscommon. Arigna LEADER was the first advocate of the development and secured the necessary finance to initiate the project. Funding followed from the Arigna Enterprise Fund and the Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources, which approved a grant of €950,000. This financing brought the project to completion. The development, as it stands, represents a total investment of over €1.5 million, including over €250,000 raised by the local community.
The Arigna Mining Experience building was officially opened by Minister Jim McDaid, Minister of State in the Department of Transport on Wednesday 23rd of April 2003. Arigna Mining Experience represents a significant achievement by the community of Arigna,the centre being the first of its kind in Ireland. The completed complex gives visitors an authentic insight into an industry which played a fundamental role in Arigna for generations and is now a tourist attraction of both national and international significance. In completing this project, Arigna has not only created a unique visitor experience but has also ensured the preservation of a crucial part of our history for future generations.