Ireland’s golden age continues at Dalradian

The history of gold in Ireland goes back millennia and beyond, with ancient tribes noted for their artistry in fashioning Celtic jewellery. Ireland’s relationship with gold stretches back as far as 2000 BC. The National Museum of Ireland has a collection of gold works uncovered in various digs, making the hoard one of the most impressive in Europe. The Celts made gold brooches to signify authority. Torcs were also important in Celtic goldwork and could sometimes symbolise Gods and aspects of Celtic mythology. In the past it was believed that the gold worked by the Celts came from continental Europe, however some historians believe the precious metal may have come from the Mourne Mountains.

A 14-year-long study by archaeologists and geologists, which ended in 2009, concluded that early Irish Bronze Age ornaments were “not only made of Irish gold but probably of gold from Co. Down’s Mourne Mountains.” That partly explains why more Bronze Age gold finds have been made in Ireland than in any other country. Dalradian as a company takes its name from a `super group of rocks’ that were formed up to 1,000 million years ago. The rocks contained underground at Curraghinalt are somewhere between 545 million years and 1,000 million years old, making them some of the oldest rocks on the island of Ireland. They are part of a formation which stretches down from north-west Donegal to Omagh. In fact Northern Ireland is richer in gold deposits than any other part of Ireland or Scotland, England or Wales.

The earliest historical record of gold discovery in Northern Ireland was in 1652 when alluvial gold was found in the Moyola River. The Ulster Museum currently houses some of the gold nuggets found in the region over the centuries. In 1795, when rumours of gold in a river in county Wicklow were reported, throngs of prospectors flocked to the site. In just a few weeks some 80 kilos of gold were recovered, with the largest nugget weighing 684 grams. After a month or so the river was closed to prospectors by government decree. While the Wicklow gold rush might come as a surprise to the general public, it has been well documented by historians and archaeologists. The gold in the rocks in west Tyrone was created millions of years ago when hot fluids coursed through the rocks, extracting minerals on the way. As the fluid travelled through the rocks, it cooled and deposited the gold in veins, which run below ground at our Curraghinalt side.

That’s part of the reason why extracting the gold today requires the latest technology and engineering know-how. In order to get the gold out, Dalradian will have to use methods which are akin to key-hole surgery, using very exact and precise tools and measurements to do so. This is part of the reason why environmental impacts will be minimised during the operations phase. Dalradian is not only building on the engineering traditions of Tyrone but in the gold-working of ancient Celts.

In the modern era, gold mining is perceived as new to the island of Ireland. However, mining has been a feature of economic life on the island of Ireland since the 1970s. The Tara Mine in Navan, Co Meath, is the largest zinc mine in Europe and has been operating for more than 40 years, employing almost 600 people and providing prosperity and business opportunities to the town and surrounding areas. Likewise the Lisheen mine in Co Tipperary began operating in 1999, ending operations in 2016, and at its peak employed around 400 people. Our proposed underground mine is a part of Ireland’s rich tradition of gold and of Tyrone’s manufacturing and engineering legacy. We are proud to be a part of that tradition.



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