A Brief Inquiry into Irish Gold

Written by Ryan Grace on 21/04/2022


A Brief Inquiry into Irish Gold


Ireland and the Irish landscape have a proud and longstanding global reputation for many things including farming, breathtaking flora and fauna, remarkably green scenery. One thing that is not commonly associated with the Emerald Isle is the presence or production of gold.

However, did you know that Ireland does in fact have a rich history of gold mining that dates back hundreds of years and has continued to this very day. In this article we are going to explore Ireland’s history with gold mining and examine some of the hotspots dotted across the island.

Ireland’s History of Gold Mining

Ireland’s History of Gold Mining


As mentioned above, gold mining has and continues to take place in Ireland, with the first major practices of gold mining here dating all the way back to the 19th century. It is widely believed that the first ‘Irish gold rush’ took place from approximately 1795 right through to around 1860. Over the course of these 65 years, a whopping 300 kilograms of gold was hand-mined from deep within the island of Ireland.

Fast-forward 200 years or so and the practice is still ongoing. Just last year, around €500 million worth of gold was discovered as a mining site located in County Monaghan.

Ireland’s Golden Hotspots

Ireland’s Golden Hotspots


Many of Ireland’s hotspots when it comes to gold fall in the southern province of Munster in places like Cork, Tipperary, and Clare. While Irish gold is certainly not limited to these places, history has shown the south of the island to be where a huge proportion of Ireland’s gold has come from.

For example, Slieveanore (a rural townland located just outside of Feakle in County Clare), once had an abundance of gold in its roots. In fact, Slieveanore roughly translates to ‘Mountain of Gold’ in English. So much so was the tradition of gold mining established in this western townland, that the placename was named after the practice.

Cork is Ireland’s largest county when it comes to geographical size and area. The Rebel County as it is affectionately known is also home to a number of Ireland’s golden hotspots. Coonanore is a snug little rural area sitting close to the south coast of Ireland. Sitting between the more commonly known areas of Bantry and Dunmanway, this small portion of the Rebel County has become known as the ‘Hollow of the Gold’.

In a similar fashion, Glenanore in County Cork is also known for its abundance of gold. It’s interesting to note these Corkonian placenames of Glenanore and Coonanore. Eagle-eyed Gaeilgeoirs (native Irish speakers) will be quick to point out that óir is the Irish word for gold. It’s hard to believe that the presence of gold in all three places mentioned above was so plentiful that it had a huge hand in the naming of the local area.

A Modern Gold Rush

A Modern Gold Rush


While this article has concentrated mainly on Irish gold located in the south, the reality is that you can find quality gold sources across the island. It has also been discovered in places like Rathfarnam in Dublin, Croagh Patrick in Mayo, throughout County Galway, and along riverbeds right across the nation.



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