Community Stories  >  Case Studies

Allihies Copper Mine Museum

With the Caha mountains at its back and the Atlantic Ocean to the fore, Allihies parish sits at the most southwesterly point of Ireland on Cork's Beara Peninsula. Just three roads connect Aillihies to the outside world - and the outside world to Allihies.

Strange to think that this remote community was once at the heart of the industrial revolution in the 19th Century, feeding Europe's great factories with copper, following the discovery of rich copper ore deposits, in 1812. 

For the best part of a century - the mine closed in 1884 and reopened for a short period in the 1920s - the copper mine was at the centre of the local economy and society. Tonnes of quartz rock were daily hewn from the earth by hand, brought to the surface and crushed to extract the copper deposits. The ore was then shipped to Swansea for smelting. 

The mine physically shaped the town and left visible signs of its presence: a methodist church built for Cornish miners who worked the mines and large 'engine houses' which were home to the huge steam engines that made the mining possible: pumping water from the pits, raising rock to the surface, lowering miners ever deeper into the earth. 

In 1993, a public meeting was held in Allihies amid growing local concern at the poor state of repair of an old mine building. From this initiative, a local cooperative was formed with the aim of generating wider local development. In the intervening years they have made remarkable progress. Not least is the transformation of the old Methodist church into a museum dedicated to the story of Allihies' mining era, utilising photographs, illustrations, artefacts, maps, and models. The museum also contains a cafe and exhibition space. It was opened by President Mary McAleese in September 2007.

The cooperative sought support from Clann Credo and we recognised that their initiative has seen the creation of new facilities that will act as a spur and a fulcrum for further growth.  



Location: Allihies, Beara Peninsula, West Cork.

Website: http://www.acmm.ie/

"The cooperative sought support from Clann Credo and we recognised that their initiative has seen the creation of new facilities that will act as a spur and a fulcrum for further growth."