Thursday 12 February 2015

Irish ancestors who worked in mines or quarries?

Old Leighlin Quarry, Co Kilkenny.
Even in modern times, quarries remain dangerous places.
Just before Christmas, Ancestry added a new database – UK Coal Mining Accidents and Deaths Index, 1700–1950. It's one of their 'Web Search' databases, meaning it's linked to the records held on a free site, in this case, The Coalmining History Resource Centre (CMHR). Distracted by this database being listed only as a UK record set, rather than a UK & Ireland collection, I didn't think much of it until I was alerted to its Irish content by Colin from Liverpool (cheers, Col!).

Better late than never, I've taken an exploratory whirl through the records and I certainly think it's worth checking out, either via the Ancestry index or the CMHR site.

It holds a total of 164,000 entries of deaths and accidents occurring in England, Wales, Scotland and the island of Ireland. Not all of the locations are coal mines; metal mines and stone quarries are also included. More than 350 of the incidents occurred in Irish quarries and mines, but there are many more that took place in England, Wales and Scotland involving men whose permanent residence was recorded as Ireland.

Year of birth is provided in the majority of cases, along with a description of the incident that caused death or injury.

Here are some examples from the database:

James and Patrick Harrington, miners living in Allihies, Co Cork, were killed in a dynamite explosion at Berehaven Colliery on 18 January 1881. 'No inquest held the cartridge being frozen they thoughtlessly warming it on top of a hot iron tube instead of warm water as recommended.' Five others were injured.

Maurice Flynn, a 55-year-old labourer working at Belfast Quarry, Killarney, was injured on 24 March 1916 when a stone fell on his head, causing swelling.

William Wilson of Castlecomer, Co Kerry, 'died suddenly at his post - heart disease' on 8 January 1880 when working as a hooker-on at Jarrow No 2 Colliery in North-East England.

Fisherman John Driscoll, born 1815, died on 11 October 1879 when he 'fell into an unfenced part of old opencast workings near the North-West mine (near Clonakilty, co Cork) after missing a turning in the road on his way home'.

The geographical data in these records is not always correct. I've found many examples of places ie Mid-Glamorgan, Edinburgh and Glasgow being recorded as Ireland, so there may well be cases where accidents in Irish quarries and mines are recorded as located in one of the other countries.