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The Wicklow Lead Mines revisited

    Glendalough lead mines dressing floors, wicklow, Ireland
    Post extractive field trip to the Glendalough mines, Wicklow
    Glendalough lead mines dressing floors, wicklow, Ireland
    Post extractive field trip to the Glendalough mines, Wicklow
    Glenmalure lead mines, Wicklow, Ireland, Baravore old crusher house conservation works
    Baravore old crusher house conservation works
    Hero mine, glendasan lead mines, wicklow, Ireland conservation works
    Conservation works on the Hero dressing floors, Glendasan lead mines

    The Wicklow Lead Mines Revisited

    In July, I was invited to lead a guided walk to the Glendalough mining landscape. This was part of a five-day symposium which considered the cultural, social, environmental, and economic crises associated with extractivism, held under the aegis of the ‘Post-extractivist legacies and landscapes: Humanities, artistic and activist responses’. This two-year project, led by University College Dublin, with partners in South Africa, Estonia, the USA and Australia, is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon-funded Global Humanities Institute (GHI) 2023.

    The Glendalough mining landscape featured in the Interreg-funded Metal Links Project (2007-2013). I drew on my expertise gained from this project, when I was part of the Glens of Lead heritage team. I conducted a detailed desktop study of the history of mineral extraction and techniques at Glendalough, and also in neighbouring Glendasan and Glenmalure. I also assisted in the archaeological surveys and interpretation of the extant remains in all three valleys. 

    I addressed the conference delegates regarding the history and geology of the Glendalough lead mining landscape. I also discussed some of the thorny issues associated with the valorisation and consolidation of post-industrial landscapes there, elsewhere in Wicklow, and Ireland generally. The surviving industrial features are not conferred the highest state preservation designations, and state and community do not always see eye to eye over issues of remediation and future site use.

    Whilst visiting County Wicklow, my partner (Dr Martin Critchley) and I, were delighted to see consolidation works going ahead at the nineteenth century Baravore Old Crusher House at Glenmalure, and at the Hero ore dressing floors at Glendasan. For the past decade, we have campaigned tirelessly for the stunning extant remains of County Wicklow’s lead mining legacy to be officially designated, protected, valorised and consolidated. It was heartening to see the Glens of Lead community group building on the knowledge generated by the Metal Links Project, by successfully claiming ownership of their heritage and engaging with the relevant agencies to ensure that the mining remains are consolidated for future generations to enjoy.

    The published papers relating to the above can be seen on the Publications page.

    Post-extractivist legacies and landscapes

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