Chronology of Glendalough Mines 1890-1975

Processing plant, Glendasan in the 1950s | Henry Carter
Processing plant, Glendasan in the 1950s
Henry Carter
U-shaped glacial valley at Glendasan | Martin Critchley
U-shaped glacial valley at Glendasan
Martin Critchley
James Mernagh who died tragically in an explosion in January 1957 | Robbie Carter
James Mernagh who died tragically in an explosion in January 1957
Robbie Carter


Mine and lands were sold to the Wynne family for £3,364.


Population 702


2 years of ore shipped to Swansea on the S.S. Pacific.

Within a few years mining was stopped due to problems with un-watering and lack of machinery. In retrospect it seems that they were not sufficiently capitalised being spread too much in their 3 Wicklow enterprises and also what lead ore was left was only secondary sources.


After 1901 the population was less than 500

Number of houses 169


Small water concentration plant was set up in Glendalough valley to treat tailings from the Luganure and Van Diemen’s Land lodes.

Tramway built which transported the tailings to a primary crusher and plant.

Loaded by hand by a mostly female workforce. The idea of this was to create a cash flow sufficient to develop underground workings.

This plant continued to about 1925. Several people came later to investigate the possibility of further working of these without success. The most notable of these was a Grattan Norman in around 1931 who spent several years on it.

1914 -1918

Major lead shortage and the Ministry of Munitions (a sub dept of the Home Office) granted the Wynnes £2,500 to re‑open the mines with a promise of a further £2,500 should the mine have a good chance of success.


40ft ­was driven on the Foxrock lode and about 35 tons was extracted. With the end of the war the Ministry lost interest and the £2,200 that had been privately subscribed proved to be insufficient for further developments.


Storm with the intensity of Hurricane Charlie destroyed the building, made of wood, and spread the debris over the whole valley.


Further exploration was carried out and continued for a further 10 years without any exploration. This was hampered by the fact that many of the shafts and adits had collapsed.


Unsuccessful application was made for grant aid of £25,000 to Mianrai Teoranta on the basis of the potential not only of the lead but also the zinc which in the last century was of little use and was treated as waste.


The Mining Company of Wicklow founded by E.B. Tipping, W.F. Tipping, J.B. Wynne, J. Esmond, Mrs Wynne, Br. McCartan, W. Clarke and L.C. Wynne.  With the help of Gerald Moorhead, then of Silvermines, and Major Michael Parrish of Mineral Explorations based in London debentures were raised.

50 employed


Mining started in January and continued for a further 4 years.  The problems were lack of capital, lack of enough ore, lack of a proper flotation works to complement the mill and perhaps bad management.  While sufficient zinc ore was found the technology was not there to process it.


After consultations with William Richardson of Toronto, a mining finance middleman, an option was taken out by Explorers Alliance Ltd. This was done through the setting up of Wicklow Mining Co. (Canada) who leased the mining rights from Wicklow Mining Co. (Ireland) and St. Kevin’s Mining Co. was set up as a subsidiary.


2nd option was refused by the backers and the rights reverted to Wicklow Mining Co. of


Mining done by drilling and blasting

A railway was laid by where ore would be drawn out by ponies which were kept in the adjacent Moorehead farm.

The ponies suffered from dampness and production was often affected especially when ponies for hire were often unavailable.

A battery train was then invested in.

All power was produced on diesel generators on the site using converted Leyland engines.

In the early period there were usually only 2 shifts but under the Canadians there were three.

Work became much more pressurised with a consequent dropping in safety standards.

Death of Jim Mernagh in January 1957 and injury to Robbie Carter.

Mining ceased.



Grant of £10,000 to the company to drive 815ft of tunnelling in New Hero with 80ft of crosscuts and complemented by 700ft of diamond drilling. This was completed but was ultimately unsuccessful due to the fact that these had to be completely horizontal and deviations to follow the lodes was not allowed.


Work carried out by Intrafor Mining Engineers


Company called Zeumac Metal Mines Ltd. carried out surface diamond drilling in the area which was negative due to the nature of the ore lodes. They did however report an anomaly for copper in the Van Diemen’s Land area which they hoped to exploit but this came to nothing.

Wicklow Mining Co. met for the last time


An auction for the effects. Some of the machinery was sold to a mining plant in Kenmare. The distribution of the remaining assets, which included £1,000 worth of Prize Bonds took some time


The company was finally removed from the Register




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