Arigna is a village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

 in County Roscommon
County Roscommon
County Roscommon is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the town of Roscommon. Roscommon County Council is the local authority for the county...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. It is near Lough Allen
Lough Allen
Lough Allen is a lake situated on the River Shannon, in the north-central part of Ireland, near Ireland's border region. Most of the lake is in County Leitrim, with a smaller portion in County Roscommon. The lake lies to the south of the river's source, near the Iron Mountains, and is the...

 (on the Shannon-Erne Waterway
Shannon-Erne Waterway
The Shannon-Erne Waterway is a canal linking the River Shannon in the Republic of Ireland with the River Erne in Northern Ireland. Managed by Waterways Ireland, the canal is in length, has sixteen locks and runs from Leitrim village in County Leitrim to Upper Lough Erne in County Fermanagh...

), on a designated "scenic route" between Keadue
Keadue, officially Keadew , is a village in County Roscommon, Ireland. It is on the R284 and R285 regional roads close to the borders of County Leitrim and County Sligo....

 and Sliabh an Iarainn (Irish/Gaelic for "Iron Mountain").

Arigna coal mine

Arigna Coal Mine is (in-)famous for its very shallow deposits. Seams of 45 cm were worked by miners lying on their sides to shovel the coal out. Mining lasted until 1990, and the coal was used for iron works and later for a power plant. With the demolition of the ESB
Electricity Supply Board
The Electricity Supply Board , is a semi-state electricity company in Ireland. While historically a monopoly, the ESB now operates as a commercial semi-state concern in a liberalised and competitive market...

 Generating Station chimney, the era of collieries in the area ended.

The mining history at Arigna started in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 with the mining of iron. East of Lough Allen
Lough Allen
Lough Allen is a lake situated on the River Shannon, in the north-central part of Ireland, near Ireland's border region. Most of the lake is in County Leitrim, with a smaller portion in County Roscommon. The lake lies to the south of the river's source, near the Iron Mountains, and is the...

 lies a mountain called Slieve Anierin, which translates to Iron Mountain. At the beginning of the 17th century, the iron was smelted at Arigna in new built iron works, using charcoal
Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of carbon, and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen...

, which was burnt from the wood of the forests around. But as no organised tree planting took place and the timber eventually ran out, the iron works had to be closed at the end of the 17th century. More than half a century later, in 1765, the mining of the coal deposits started, and again 30 years later the smelting was revived using the local coal instead of charcoal. This iron works closed finally in 1838, as they were not very successful.

Coal mining continued and provided work for the people in the area. The coal was used to heat homes and hospitals, and to power steam engines. In 1958 the Arigna Power Station
Power station
A power station is an industrial facility for the generation of electric energy....

 was opened to produce electricity. It was the first major power generating station in Connaught
Connacht , formerly anglicised as Connaught, is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the west of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for...

. The station was built specifically to burn the semi bituminous coal
Bituminous coal
Bituminous coal or black coal is a relatively soft coal containing a tarlike substance called bitumen. It is of higher quality than lignite coal but of poorer quality than Anthracite...

 with its high ash content. At its height, the power station burned 55,000 tons of coal per year and employed 60 people. Like in other coal mining areas of Europe, the main goal of this power station was to secure the jobs in the local mining industry. During the internationalization process of the mid 20th century, foreign coal from much bigger and easier to mine deposits became much cheaper than local coal. At the end of the 1980s the power station was shut down, and without its main buyer the mine closed in 1990.

Because of the thin coal seams, a special type of mining was practised at Arigna. A main tunnel was driven from which branched a series of secondary tunnels every 5-6 meters, where the coal was mined. The secondary tunnels followed the seams and were rather low. The miners typically worked lying on their back to cut the coal. These 'Cutters' or 'Brushers' also prepared the mine for the next days work, and extended the roads using explosives. 'Drawers' filled hutches (tubs) and pushed them out to the main underground mine road. Here the hutches were linked up to the an endless-rope haulage system and were pulled to the outside. Sometimes small diesel locomotives were used to pull hutches out of the pit. 'Proppers' used timber pillars to prop up the mine roof.

The Arigna Mining Experience consists of an exhibition and an optional underground tour. The underground tour is guided by former miners, who are able to answer many questions on the coal mining process. This tour is a little difficult, as the mine is often very low. Visitor get hard hats to protect their heads. Lighting and sound effects throughout the mine are intended to add to the authenticity of the experience.

In April, 2009, a musical celebration of Arigna's mining heritage, Scars On the Mountain was launched by RTÉ, Ireland's state broadcaster.


Up until the 1980s
File:1980s decade montage.png|thumb|400px|From left, clockwise: The first Space Shuttle, Columbia, lifted off in 1981; American President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev eased tensions between the two superpowers, leading to the end of the Cold War; The Fall of the Berlin Wall in...

, Arigna had a working coal-mine with more than 400 people employed. Today, a small museum hosts artefacts of the mining experience and visitors are taken down the mine to experience the difficult conditions under which local people worked for years.


Arigna railway station opened on 2 May 1888, but finally closed on 1 April 1959. It was part of the narrow gauge Cavan and Leitrim Railway
Cavan and Leitrim Railway
The Cavan & Leitrim Railway was a narrow-gauge railway in the counties of Leitrim and Cavan in the north-west of Ireland, which ran from 1887 until 1959.Unusually for Ireland, this 914mm -gauge line survived on coal traffic, from the mine at Arigna...


See also

  • List of towns and villages in Ireland
  • Ballingarry Coal Mines
    Ballingarry Coal Mines
    Ballingarry Coal Mines are underground coal mines located near the village of Ballingarry, South Tipperary, Ireland. Situated near the border with County Kilkenny, the mines are now disused and have flooded...

    , County Tipperary
    County Tipperary
    County Tipperary is a county of Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster and is named after the town of Tipperary. The area of the county does not have a single local authority; local government is split between two authorities. In North Tipperary, part of the Mid-West Region, local...

  • Deerpark Mines
    Deerpark Mines
    Deerpark Mines, located about 3Km north of Castlecomer, County Kilkenny, were the largest opencast coalmines in Ireland, giving great employment to the area. Producing anthracite, a natural smokeless fuel, the mines were connected to the rail system in Ireland in 1919...

    , Castlecomer
    Castlecomer is a town in the barony of Fassadinin, County Kilkenny in Ireland.The Irish name for the town translates to "The castle at the confluence of the rivers"; the "rivers" refers to the rivers Deen, Brocagh and Clohogue while the "castle" refers to the castle built by the Normans in 1171...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.