Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, 1808

By Hely Dutton

Chapter I - Section 5


THE annexed list, taken from the Dublin Society’s museum, will shew that this country is by no means deficient in mineral productions. I discovered very rich lead ore on Mr. Scott’s estate near Glendree, and on Mr. Colpoys’s estate near Tullagh. I have seen a specimen of lead ore, belonging to a gentleman, who did not wish his name to be mentioned, which has been assayed in London, and contains in 36 cwt. 25¼ cwt. lead, 56¼ oz. silver, and 1¼ oz. gold, and lies near the surface. Strong indications of iron are very frequent in many parts of the county, but, until coal is raised in sufficient quantity, it is of no value. Coal has been found in many places, but little or no exertions made to pursue it with any beneficial effect. Some years since two boats were freighted with coal raised near Innistymon; one was sent to Limerick, and the other to Galway; they were both condemned, as very bad coal, because one of the partners insisted on mixing the coal smut along with the good coal; thus ignorance and avarice met their just reward, and, instead of a profitable undertaking, dissolved a partnership, that, if conducted with skill and honesty, would have enriched the country and themselves.

A few years since an attempt was made by Mr. Burton, near Clifden, aided by some English miners, to raise coal; after sinking upwards of fifty feet, a thin stratum of coal was discovered; but the shaft filled so fast with water, that the miners, from want of machinery to clear it, were obliged to desist until some future period. Detached limestone rocks of considerable magnitude frequently occur in the grit soils, and, though surrounded by bog, where their value would be inestimable, and could be obtained at a very moderate expence, they are seldom used. Large blocks of limestone have been lately discovered in Liscanor bay, seven or eight miles from the limestone country, and burned for lime; also in a bank, near the harbour of Liscanor, water-worn pebbles are found and burned.

The shore of Lough Graney produces a sand chiefly composed of crystals, which is used for making scythe boards, greatly superior to those brought from England; the country people come for it upwards of twenty miles. Sand of the same quality is also procured from Lough Coutra, the estate of Prendergast Smyth, Esq. in the same chain of mountains.

Very fine flags are raised on the estate of Mr. Cooper, a few miles from Kilrush; they are easily quarried, and procured in masses of considerable dimensions. They are curiously connected by serpentine insertions between the layers. The foot-path of Miltown is beginning to be flagged with them, for which purpose they are well adapted, as well from their durability, as from the feet not slipping on them as on limestone, which makes a very dangerous pavement or flagging. Near Innistymon thin flags are raised, which are used for many miles round for covering houses; they do not in general split into laminę thin enough, therefore require strong timbers in the roof; they are sold for 6s. to 11s. per ton, laid down at your house, if within three or four miles distance. The Ballagh slates are preferred, as they are thinner than most others. A ton will slate about a square or 100 feet; and for laying them on the house, at 8s. 1½d. per square, slaters, if employed by the day, generally get 2s. 8½d. and diet. There is another sandstone quarry near Kilrush, one near Glenomera, and several of this kind of stone in the western part of the county. Broadford slates have long been celebrated, and are nearly equal to the best Welsh slates; they cost at the quarry 2l. 5s. 6d. per ton, which will cover nearly three squares; a smaller kind are sold for 1l. 6s. and will cover about 1½ square. As the communication by the Shannon is now opened to Dublin, little doubt can be entertained that they will supply that city to the exclusion of Welsh slates. Killaloe slates are reckoned rather better than Broadford: they sell for, whole and half ton, 2l. 5s. 6d. per ton; quarter ton 5s. per hundred; small slates 13s. per thousand: the quarry-men have half the profit for raising them, the other half is received by the proprietor, Mr. Henry of Straffon. All the quarries seem to be badly worked; they do little more than skim the surface, though doubtless the hardest and best slates are at greater depths than they can attain without the assistance of machinery. This one of Killaloe is worked to a greater depth than the Broadford quarries.

Very fine black marble has been raised at Craggliath near Ennis; it takes a very high polish, and is, if well chosen, free from those large white spots, that disfigure some of the Kilkenny marble.

Copper pyrites occurs in several parts of Burrin; I have found it near Doolen; and I am informed that, some years since, Mr. Annesley, who possesses an estate in Glenvaan, barony of Burrin, attempted to raise copper ore; but, after bringing over miners from England at a considerable expence, whether from their unfavourable reports, or what other cause I know not, the further progress was abandoned. 

The chain of calcareous hills, that run from near Corrofin, present a very curious assemblage to the traveller’s eye, they are generally insulated, flat on the summit, descending and encreasing in amphitheatrical ledges to the intervening vallies; some of them bear a very near resemblance to the view of the Herefordshire beacon, given as the frontispiece to the 1st vol. of Mr. King’s Munimenta Antiqua*.

List of Minerals, discovered by Mr. Donald Stewart, and others, in the County of Clare, and of which specimens have been deposited in the Museum of the Dublin Society.


1. Rich lead ore, from a remarkable large course of fine white calcareous crystal spar, forty yards wide, between the grey limestone rocks on the estate of Anthony Colpoys, Esq. near Tulla.
2. Lead ore, found on the lands of Class the estate of Henry O’Brien, Esq. in hard grey rock, that strikes fire with steel.
3. Lead ore, found in grey limestone rock, in the deer-park of Lemenagh, the estate of Sir Edward O’Brien. It has also been discovered in various other parts of the same estate, sometimes coated with yellow crystal pyrites.
4. Lead ore, from Glenvaan, in the barony of Burrin, the estate of Mr. Annesley; also some specimens of green and blue lead ore: a large course runs into the great limestone mountains of Burrin.
5. Lead ore, from a regular vein on the summit of the limestone mountain, on the north-west side of the large deer-park of Lemenagh, the estate of Francis M’Namara, Esq.
6. Lead ore, from Glendree, the estate of John Scott, Esq. near Feacle.


7. Heavy blackish iron-stone, from Class, near Spansel hill; it strikes fire with steel.
8. Heavy blackish iron-stone, from a large course of spar and ochre, near the edge of the river Ardsallas, on the north side of the demesne of Sir Edward O’Brien.
9. Black heavy iron ore, from Goat-island, on the Malbay coast, the estate of Lord Milton.
10. Rich black ochrish iron ore, in a large flat on the top of the cliff opposite to Goat-island; near this is a regular stratum of coal-slate, six feet thick, the estate of Lord Milton.
11. Red iron ore, from the same place, near Cross.
12. Very compact reddish iron ore, from the rubbish, where the late Sir Lucius O’Brien made a trial for coal, near the road between Corrofin and Ennis.
13. Heavy reddish iron ore, from the shore of Liscanor bay, near the place, in which coal has been found.
14. A ball of iron-stone, from near Pooldagh or the Bullock’s pool, on the estate of Lord Milton, near Cross, on the Malbay coast.


15. From the spa-well of Fierd, on the sea-shore near Cross, the estate of Mr. Westby. Specimens of this were sent to Mr. Roe, at Ringsend, and others, who said it was more free from iron, and better than any they had seen before, and very fit for making the bleaching liquid. It is formed by the water on the rocks.
16. Heavy porous iron manganese, from Kilcredane point, near Carrigaholt castle, the estate of Lord Conyngham.
17. Manganese, from near Newhall, the estate of the late Charles Macdonnel, Esq.
18. Manganese, from a large alt="" of it, on the edge of a bog near Innistymon river, and not far from that village, the estate of Edward O’Brien, Esq.


19. In several parts of Mount Callan, on the estates of the Earl of Egremont, Lord Conyngham, and the Bishop of Killaloe. Beds of iron-stone have been also found here.
20. Coal, from a stratum twelve inches thick, near Loughill ferry; on the opposite side of the Shannon, in the county of Limerick, the same stratum is only nine inches thick. Coal smut from the cliffs, on the west of Cloghansevan castle. In a high cliff near this a large seam appears like coal, the estate of Mr. Westby, near Cross.
21. Coal, from Liscanor bay, near Innistymon, in the face of the rock a little above high-water mark; the seam is three feet thick; the estate of Edward Fitzgerald, Esq.
22. Coal, on the shore of Malbay, within high-water mark, near Mutton island, the estate of Lord Conyngham.
23. Coal, from a thin seam in a stream, that divides the estates of Lord Milton and the late Lord Clare, near the sea-shore, to the west of Carrigaholt castle, where also are strong indications of coal.
24. Coal smut, from the remarkable cliff, where water falls upon the rock, and has formed a great alt="" of yellow ochre, near the mountain of Lemaduff or the Bullock’s leap, the estate of Lord Milton.
25. Coal, from a stratum four inches thick, about midway between the base and summit of Mount Callan, the estate of Lord Conyngham.
26. Shining, blackish, ochrish coal slate, from a seam three feet thick, near the surface of the ground, on the sea-shore, about two miles east of Mutton island, the estate of George Stackpoole, Esq. of Edenvale.
27. Coal, from a seam of it at Fieragh or Foraty bay, the estate of William Stackpoole, Esq.


It is mentioned only in those places, where its scarcity and great value as a manure make it worthy of notice.

28. Reddish limestone, in Glenomera, barony of Tulla, on the estates of Sir Hugh Massey and Mr. Arthur.
29. Glimmery black limestone, near Six-mile-bridge. Black limestone, with the impressions of shells on it, in the bed of the river, that divides the counties of Clare and Galway, in Slieve-an-oir mountain.
30. Black limestone, from large stones found within the tide-water mark, on the shore of the river Shannon, about two miles north of Carrigaholt castle, the estate of the late Charles Macdonnel, Esq.
31. Slaty black limestone, from Slieve-an-oir river, near the bleach-green; it was traced from Lough Teorig, on the mountain, to Lough Graney, a distance of upwards of four miles.
Also valuable ochres, clays for potteries, antimony, and beautiful fluor spar, &c. have been discovered; besides copper ore in several places, one mine of which in Burrin was formerly worked.

* These bills are not well delineated in the map of the county, published by Mr. Pelham.

Back to Statistical Survey of the County of Clare - Chapter 1