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Glengowla mines in Oughterard County Galway Ireland
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Glengowla Lead Mines   ~   Oughterard
Once worked for lead and zinc in the mid 1800s, abandoned in 1865, this mine is now open to the public.

Situated just west of Oughterard in County Galway, the mine was opened to the public in 1999 after it was rescued from flooding.

It's the only one of its kind in the country.

Glengowla Lead Mines near Oughterard County Galway
Find out what kibbles and windlasses are in the underground tour and see the unique haulage shoot and pumping system used when the mill was working. There are also a number of museum specimens of calcite and green fluorspar.

You will be able to see some remaining surface features such as a leat, which runs for about two miles. See the remains of a waterwheel pit, and a powder house and Blacksmiths Shop too. The current owners have also built a horse gin.

In the guided tour you'll be able to see all the tools before you go down the mine to see where they were used. You'll get the low down on all the minerals that were once mined here in Glengowla. And you'll find out how the historical use of minerals such as fluoride differs from its use today.

Getting there - The mine is situated on the M59, Galway to Clifton Road and is 2.5 miles outside Oughterard on the Clifden side. If you are using public transport, a train will take you as far as Galway City and then a bus will bring you to Oughterard.

The mine is owned by the Geoghegan family who have done an astonishing amount of work to stabilise the surface, pump-out the mine, build steps to give access to the upper workings, and repair the buildings. On the surface, the powder magazine, blacksmith's workshop and the agent's cottage have been restored and contain items rescued from the mine. A hand windlass and a horse-gin have been constructed.

The mineral vein was discovered when loose rocks of galena were found just below the surface of farm land. Mining started in 1851 and was suspended in 1865. During that short 14 year period, 545 square metres was stopped to produce 390 tonnes of lead containing 28 kilograms of silver.

Today the mine is rich in what was left behind by the miners. The video "Glengowla" includes an underground trip down to water level guided by Keith Geoghegan and a quick look at the surface remains. Underground, many artefacts can be seen, including stemples supporting stacked deads, ladders, pump rods and pipes, pulleys, ore tubs, windlasses, guide chutes and timbers.

Glengowla also has a scintillating variety of minerals: marble, dolomite, quartz, calcite, barite, sphalerite, chalcopyrite and very rare blue/green octahedral fluorite. Vugs large and small are lined with gleaming crystals.
Glengowla Lead Mines near Oughterard County Galway The cast iron rising main and pitch pine pump rods still reach to the sump. The rods were driven by a waterwheel on the surface fed by leat from Lough Agraffard.

The plunger of the main pump is one of the artefacts on display in the restored Captain's cottage.
In a side chamber is an intact windlass above a winze sunk to explore how deep the ore went.

Opening hours - Tours every 20 minutes until 5.30pm March-November, 7 days a week. If you want to go out of season, 'phone beforehand to book.
Tel: +353 (0)91 552021

School tours can be arranged if you give about a week's notice. Buy all your rocks and gems from the small shop. There is an interpretive centre and guided tours will provide all you need to know about the workings of the mine. Refreshments are available.


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