A brief history of the gold hidden around Ireland

Could you be sitting on top of your own personal goldmine?

DID YOU THINK panning for gold was the preserve of the Wild West?

Well, actually, it’s not. There are many locations in Ireland where you can strike upon gold today – and down through our rich history (no pun intended), plenty of lucky people have.

Areas where gold was deposited were better known to inhabitants of Ireland in 2500-500 BC, and in fact, more Bronze Age gold hoards have been found in Ireland than anywhere else in Europe. There is comparatively little modern gold mining in the country, due to the natural secrecy of gold deposit locations, knowledge lost to emigration and – of course – places running out of the precious stuff.

Gold lunula from Blessington, Co Wicklow. Early Bronze Age, c. 2400BC – 2000BC. Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to gold prospectors around the world, gold has historically been found from top to bottom of our little island, and that’s often reflected in place names. If you’re located near any of the towns below, you could be closer to an ancient pot of gold than you think.

  • Slieve Anore (Mountain of the Gold), near Feakle, Co Clare
  • Tullynore (Little Hill of the Gold), Co Down
  • Coomanore (Hollow of the Gold), near Bantry, Co Cork
  • Glenanore (Glen of the Gold), Co Cork

In addition to these small pockets around the country, there have been some more famous, bigger hauls. During the period between 1795 and 1830, according to Minerals Ireland, an estimated 7-9,000 ounces of gold were extracted from alluvial gravels in the Gold Mines River, Co Wicklow. This time period became known as the Avoca Gold Rush.

The old Avoca Mines in Co Wicklow. Source: Mining Heritage Society of Ireland

But never fear. Irish gold-mining days aren’t just the preserve of history books.

As well as gold found in recent years in Monaghan, another mine opened in Tyrone in 2008. In addition, the Connemara Mining company have stated as recently as December 2012 that they found “a number of zones with significant gold enrichment” in the Wicklow/Wexford area. Drilling found 11.38 troy ounces of gold per tonne of earth. In other words, sounds like they’ve struck some serious gold.

With any luck, we could be returning to our Bronze Age roots.

So there you are now – you could easily be sitting on a jackpot. Why not get digging?

Read: Irish-American returns to Ireland to seek his fortune

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