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The Burren: Mineral Resources and Mining

There is a long tradition of mining in north-west Clare. Several points on detailed maps show sites of lead and silver mining. Lead and silver deposits have been found in the west side of Slieve Carron and also north of Fisher Street in Doolin. Fluorspar is found throughout the Burren. This decorative amethyst stone was worked from the open-cast site at Kilweelran townland in the parish of New Quay during the 1960's until the shallow seam was exhausted. Since then a deeper seam has been located but has not been worked. Fluorspar is used commercially as a flux in metal smelting and in steel manufacture. Calcite used in the manufacture of cement and paints is found in areas of the Burren. This is a white crystalline mineral that grows in from both sides of the grykes, and may completely fill the fissure. Borings in the townland of Mortyclough near New Quay proved positive, but the subsequent open-cast mining has now been discontinued.

For a great many years flagstones have been mined in the Moher area and the dressing of the stones has given good local employment. This highly attractive dressed stone is used extensively as paving around modern buildings, as well as for fireplaces and other relief features.

Minerals of the Burren
Minerals of the Burren

Of all the worked minerals in the Burren, the mining of the phosphate deposits at Doolin and at Noughaval (3.2 km north-east of Kilfenora) was the largest enterprise. Some mining at Noughaval and Doolin was open cast, but the underground mine at Doolin was by far the biggest. During the Second World War when the embargoes prevented the importation of this fertiliser, these two seams were worked and approximately 115,000 tons were raised.

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