A NEW commemorative sign has been put in place at the entrance to the Deerpark Colliery, which flourished in north Kilkenny from 1924 to 1969.
In addition to the mining museum at the Castlecomer Discovery Park, the sign is intended to honour “the memory of all men and boys who spent most of their short lives hundreds of feet below the ground.”
Aptly called as the name originally came from a herd of deer introduced by the Wandesforde family, the Deerpark Colliery mine was originally sunk in 1924 and was the showcase of the Irish coalmining industry.
Sophisticated hauling gear, giant washeries and screening systems gave access to extensive areas of untouched coal. In fact, the Skehana anthracite coal seam, which lay 700 feet below the surface, was extracted through 11 miles of underground roadways.
The buildings inside the gate of the site entrance are the bathhouse, built in 1939, and various other buildings including bike sheds, offices, an ambulance shed, a forge and sawmill for making and repairing the tools that the miners used. A strong room housed the explosive material that was used underground. There was also an area for livestock, which included horses, ponies and donkeys.
The daily output averaged 400 tons of coal, with 600 men and boys employed. Thirteen boys and men lost their lives during the course of their mining duties at this colliery. In 1969 the mine was closed as it became uneconomical to run.
The story of coal and coalmining is explored in more detail in the ‘Footprints in Coal’ exhibition that is open daily at Castlecomer Discovery Park.
This sign has been erected by permission of John and Sylvia Ward with financial support from the Green Mines Interreg Project. For more information about the Castlecomer Discovery Park, contact 056 4440707 or see www.discoverypark.ie.