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Sunday 1 October 2023 Dublin: 16°C
How do you strike gold?
Could you learn the science of a gold prospector? It’s not as hard as you might think.

YESTERDAY, WE TOLD you about all the gold-rich spots around Ireland.

Today, we’re going to teach you how to get at it.

Gold has been highly sought-after since before the beginning of recorded history. And that means that the job of gold prospector is probably one of the oldest professions in the world.

Do you reckon you have the skills and patience it takes to join their ranks? Here’s your crash course in gold panning like a cowboy during a goldrush.

If you were looking to find gold, what would you look for?

Gold has been found in many areas in almost every corner of Ireland. The best way for an amateur to find gold is panning, so water is essential. Streams in known gold-bearing areas are good because they carry along little flakes and nuggets that are naturally sluiced.

Grab your metal detector, look out for quartz, and wade in.

Graeme O. Churchard Can you spot the gold in the quartz? Graeme O. Churchard

BONUS FACT: Most of the Earth’s gold deposits lie at the core, being dragged down by density in the planet’s early days. Almost all the discovered gold we have now is thought to have been deposited later by meteorites containing the precious metal. So, basically, we’re all wearing SPACE gold in our jewellery.

How does the average person access gold?

Shelling out in the jewellers aside, there are ways for the average person to get their own gold from nature. Since we don’t all have mining equipment to hand, panning is the go-to method.

Gold panning requires patience. As you can see below, it’s basically just near-endless careful swirling of a big basin.

First, scoop some gravel from the river into your pan and then immerse it in water.

Then, rock and swirl your pan around carefully. Filter off the dirt and gravel by tilting the pan and letting it back into the river. Make sure you don’t toss too much water at any one time – there might be flakes of gold you’re missing!

Gold is dense so should sink to the bottom of your pan. At best, it may just be little tiny flakes in amongst all the silt – but it all adds up.

All images sourced via: Wiki-How

BONUS FACT: Did you know that Charles Stewart Parnell panned for gold for 7 years to make Kitty O’Shea’s wedding band? He used the Avondale river near his home, Avondale House. 7 years? Now THAT’S dedication.

So, now you have the skills, would you ever hit the Wicklow hills to pan for gold? It certainly brings the term “paydirt” a whole new meaning…

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

Read: A brief history of the gold hidden around Ireland

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