This year our Heritage Week programme saw us share Michael Barron’s recollections of Village Life online and complete the celebration of the week in person with an open day in The Old School. This in person event allowed visitors to the building to see the developments that have been made in displaying the collection of mining artefacts, photographs, maps and models. Since our last in person event for Heritage Week in 2019 there is also this Tipperary Coalmines website which includes the Heritage Week 2021 County Award for Tipperary Virtual Mine Site tours presented by ex-miner Michael King Cleere.
The highlight of Saturday was Paddy O’Connell’s collection of scrap books and albums available for visitors to leaf through. Paddy generously stayed all day to talk about the photographs and to identify the people in them. The community is fortunate as it is a privilege to have a man like Paddy who thought to collect this heritage as it was happening,and is willing to share it. Many of the images used in Billy Barron’s reading of his father’s recollections came from Paddy, and most of the rest from Michael Barron who not only took but also developed his photographs.
Our youngest visitor was Jimmy Cormack, just about to go into 1st class in Ballingarry, he came along with his dad and mam Eamon and Tracy who traveled back in time through the cuttings and photographs on display. Jimmy’s Granddad Jimmy Cormack worked on the bank at Gurteen in the late 60’s and 70’s, and young Jimmy showed great interest in the photographs of the vehicles.
Thank you to Gerry Hayes who added to the collection in the Old School bringing along two interesting coal and resin models from one of the Welsh mining communities. One is of a miner’s kitchen and the other shows the miner, a woman sorting coal and a child miner.
In England and Wales women worked for the mines topside and children were also given jobs. Here in Slieveardagh women were not employed by the companies, except in later years in the Offices, but they did help with the family bassets. The mine at Foilacamin was used for pumping water away from the workings at Gurteen in the 1950’s to the 1970’s and local woman Norah Maher did sometimes wind the winch so maybe she was the exception.
Martin Maher shared an image of his poster for the St Patrick's Day dance at the New Hall from 1949 during Heritage Week. It was great that he was happy to take it from its pride of place at home, and bring it up to the Old School for the day adding to the saved history and Heritage of the New Hall and Ballingarry.
It was a day for family and reminiscing and Eddie ‘Connors’ children Eileen O’Connor and her brother Pat came along and Marian Cahill supported the day, as always it is always a surprize to hear what memories people have of the area in the past!
Councillor Imelda Goldsboro came along and supported the day,she is a McGrath - the family who provided the New Hall to the community back in 1948.
There are always new stories to be shared, we shared recollections of the social life available to this mining community through Michael Barron's writings, shared with us by his family and also many photographs not seen for years both online and at this in person event. It was a great culmination of the Heritage Week 2022 project organised by the Slieveardagh Mining Interest Group. For anyone who missed this event and would like to visit, there will be another Open Day at the Old School in the Autumn and it will be publicised through this blog and facebook.
If you missed the blogs during Heritage Week they can all be found on the Tipperary Coalmines website. https://www.tipperarycoalmines.ie