In 1958, the ESB, Ireland’s electricity supplier, opened an electricity generating station nearby, designed and built specifically to burn locally-mined coal. The ESB quickly became Arigna’s biggest customer, with the station consuming a massive 55,000 tonnes of coal a year, at its peak.
However, with reserves of top-quality coal becoming depleted, the fate of the power station and the mining industry was sealed. Both closed in 1990.
While these closures marked the end of an era, the people of the area recognised the opportunity to create something new and unique. With dual purposes of preserving their rich mining heritage and boosting the local economy, they were determined to create an attraction that would bring visitors from Ireland and abroad.
Driven by the people of Arigna and supported by several local and government agencies, including Roscommon County Council – through its LEADER programme – and the Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources, the Arigna Mining Experience was opened in April 2003. To date, total investment stands at over €2 million, of which €250,000 was raised by the local community.
The visitor centre was extended in 2019, and now includes a café, gift shop and dedicated audio visual area. The gift shop was extended in 2019 and now includes an extended 60 seat café, gift shop and Audio visual room.