The old lead mines, Ballycorus July 2013

The rain was torrential – as had been forecast – so we sought shelter in the doorway of the chimney at the top of the hill – after a pleasant if slippery climb.

I lived in Ballycorus for some years, in the little three-roomed dwelling that had once been the paymaster’s office of the lead mines. ( The mines ceased operating in 1913.)

There was no electricity, no running water and no telephone. We got our water from the well close by,  our milk straight from the cow in the farmhouse across the fields where we also got our eggs, turnips, spuds and cooking apples.

Cooking was done on a primus stove and in the evenings, a candle would be lit though most evenings we sat around in the glow of the fire talking, playing cards, telling ghost stories and, of course,  singing. The fire was kept going by fircones that we collected in sacks and carried down from the pine wood above us.

Warm evenings, we sat outside on the granite steps and talked or played games till t got dark . ( Saved on candles.)

No lavatory but we had an earth closet which was emptied once a week, the contents of the bucket tipped over the bank at the bottom of the garden which is why that part of the garden was greener than the rest of it.


Today, we climbed up to the chimney which had been built to take away the toxic fumes from the lead smelting plant down the hill. The fumes and smoke were funneled in a tunnel all the way up to the chimney.

The opening to the chimney is still there and we legged it up the last bit of the hill and in – to escape the driving rain. The Three Rock mountain opposite had already disappeared  in the rain cloud. As we sheltered, we were joined by no less that nine other people and so we stayed there in cosy solidarity till the worst was over and then made a run for it, down the hill to the car, along the Bride’s Glen to the Silver Tassie pub and back on to the  dual carriageway.

Ballycorus was almost the same as it’s always been, give or take….


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