From Iron to Coal

Mining The Arigna area has a long tradition of mining which dates back to the early 17th century. High grade iron ore are commonly found in the area in “nodes” or rounded lumps, varying in size from a pebble to that of a rugby ball. This led to the establishment of iron works by Elizabethan planter, Charles Coote at Creevela and Arigna.

These “ironstones” which were plentiful in fields and riverbanks over a wide spread area were dug out of the ground by men, women and children and transported to the iron-works. Timber from the surrounding forests was turned into charcoal to use as fuel in the smelting process

The first iron works in Arigna were destroyed during the 1641 rebellion. They were rebuilt and worked on until 1690, when they were closed because all the local forests had been used up.

The iron works were re-opened by the O’Reilly brothers in 1788 after coal had been discovered in the area.

This was the first time in Ireland that coal was used in the smelting process of iron. The iron works closed in 1838 but mining continued in Arigna as a major enterprise and source of employment until 1990 when the last of the mines closed.

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