Ballinafunshoge - smelting site

The c. 1835 map of the area shows a smelter house and ore grinding mill located separately from and about 500m NW from the ore extraction and processing site.

There are now very few visible remains of this complex, the last remnants of which were apparently cleared as recently as about 10 years ago to make a car park and adjoining camping ground. What is believed to be at least part of the wall foundation footprint of the principal building at this site may just be discerned as a low masonry wall around parts of the car park, although there is now no obvious expression of either of the other two buildings which once existed at this site.

Immediately opposite this site, on the opposite side of the road, it is just about possible to discern the roughly rectangular, but heavily overgrown outline of the ore grinding mill, and beside it a bare patch of soil in which pieces of smelting slag are still evident. Peat was apparently used as the fuel for smelting. Nearby, and partially overgrown by forestry, it is possible to discern the outline and part of the course of a “leat” (water channel) system, which loops around the site and back towards the stream which flows under the road, just to the southeast of the car park.

A recorded output of 334 tons of lead is noted in 1811, when the metal was worth £30 per ton. Production in 1819 is given as 300 – 400 tons of ore, grading 68% lead. Later production figures are given in “Mineral Statistics”, including a period of virtually continuous production between 1845 and 1864. During that period, a maximum of 367 tons of lead ore was produced in 1845, and a maximum of 950 ounces of silver in 1852. The mine continues to be listed for various intervals after 1864, either to note production aggregated with production from the Luganure mine in Glendasan, or to note that works had been suspended (1869 to 1873).

 

Car park and camping site at Glenmalure developed on the site of the Smelting House
Martin Critchley

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