Miner's house in the Mardyke, Tipperary


Miner's house in the Mardyke, Tipperary

Bill Martin has been recording and publishing the history and archaeology of the Slieve Ardagh hills for the last 15 years. Yesterday as part of the Local Diaspora Fund he brought me to see the remains of the Mining Company of Ireland works at the Mardyke near Killenaule in the Slieve Ardaghs.

On the way up to the site he brought us into a field to look at Duggans Level - pre-industrial revolution mining in the area was curtailed by the height of the water table. The MCI solved this problem by lowering the water table with extensive, engineered tunnels.

At the Mardyke the MCI settlement is showing all the sign of dereliction with only one of the miners housing surviving out of over 30. Many of the mining families moved to Pennsylvania as the Slieve Ardagh works petered out but some families did stay behind and occuppied the houses into the 20th century. The Slieve Ardagh team have traced the families who worked and lived in the Mardyke.

"ThePrimary valuation of Tenements for the area reports, that, by 1848 there were 33 houses in this village, three were vacant at the time of the survey.

The families who occupied the houses were;- Alice Rochford, William Hunt, William Gleeson, Patrick Walsh & James Walsh, Thomas Stapleton, Eliza Hogan, Richard Morris, John Carroll, Patrick Hackett, Patrick Condon, Michael Gleeson, James Sweeney, John Pemberty, Thomas Gorman, Thomas Morris, Edward St John, John Hogan, Timothy Gleeson, Thomas Heffernan, Thomas Sweeney, James Delaney, Charles Power, Michael Power, Thomas Morris, Edward Russell, John Brien, Patrick Power and Richard Power." (the valuations only list the 'head of household' but Bill continues to trace the full families).

Image courtesy of John Hackett

We were able to push through the undergrowth and inspect the interior of the one surviving miners house. Besides this house there are also remains of the engine house, the office, storehouse and some enclosing walls. This is a key site of national importance and is crying out for conservation and sensitive tourism development - this is an ideal diaspora engagement project - the Mardyke no doubt having links with mining families across the globe.