A road in Gurteen will be closed for a number of weeks because of subsidence
The legacy of coal mining in Kilkenny seems to have come back to haunt the Castlecomer area, today, as a road has subsided into the ground in what is likely an old mining shaft.
The road at Gurteen, Castlecomer, is completely closed to traffic by Kilkenny County Council and diversions are in place locally.
Motorists are asked to take care in the area. Local councillor Pat Fitzpatrick said traffic is being diverted via the Yellow Road, Monteen Road and Upper Hill.
The issue came to light earlier this week when a local noticed subsidence of the road and contacted the county council. Senior engineer Seamus Kavanagh and area engineer Phillippe Beubry visited the scene and a geophysical survey has been ordered of the area.
The road will be closed for a number of weeks. No date is yet known when it will reopen to traffic.
The area around Gurteen was the first area to be mined for coal in the Castlecomer area, about 150 years ago.
Local historian Seamus Walsh, who has written two books on the mining heritage of the Castlecomer area, told The Kilkenny People that the whole Gurteen area was an open cast mine up to 30/40 years ago. He said "bits of coal were left here and there and locals rooted it out for their own fires."
The coal in the area was reasonably accessible, 15 to 20 feet below ground, Mr Walsh said.
The landscape still shows the scars of mining. Mr Walsh described how looking down across Moneenroe, which was nicknamed 'the collieries', you can see eight to ten foot 'dips' in the landscape where wooden beams in old mine tunnels have rotten and fallen in.
He said there are old mine workings around the place and they are "very deep and very dangerous."