Friday 15 June 2012

Cork copper mine museum wins prestigious award

The museum is housed in a chapel
built by Cornish miners in 1845
The Allihies Copper Mine Museum has been awarded the President’s Award by the Association for Industrial Archaeology (AIA), the leading UK body dedicated to the preservation of industrial heritage.

Located on the Beara peninsula, in co Cork, the museum tells the story of copper mining in the area from 1812. It was a specialised industry that, at its height, employed as many as 1500 people, including a good number from the copper mines of Cornwall in England.

Although some minor production continued up to 1962, large scale operations had ended by 1884 when most of the miners had either emigrated or were preparing to leave. Most of these emigrant minors headed to the Butte, Montana copper mines.

The museum, which is run by the local community and has very limited resources, aims to develop into a rich source of information on mining and local history for anyone seeking further study. To this end a library of books and documents has started, as well as the beginnings of an electronic database, and will broaden as the Museum develops and gains a reputation and status. It hopes one day to be able to carry out research into the men who worked in the mines.

But this may be for some time in the future. In the meantime, a new website is under construction and will provide a good range of historical information about the development of the local mines, correspondence between mine captains, and the geology of the area.

The website is well presented and professional looking, and reflects well on a museum that has just received the AIA President's Award. The latter is given annually to managers who, in the opinion of the Association's president and his advisers, achieve a high standard in interpreting to the public a monument, site or project of industrial archaeological significance.

The site or monument receives a plaque and details of the winning scheme are reported in the Association’s publications.

The award was presented to Charlie Tyrrell, chairman of the Allihies Copper Mine Museum.