View over Allihies. Ballydonegan Bay is on the left
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Allihies (//; Irish: Na hAilichí, meaning "the cliff fields") is a coastal parish[clarification needed] (and townland) in the west of County Cork, Ireland. The corresponding civil parish is Kilnamanagh. The largest village in the parish is Cluin, but is often mistakenly referred to by the name of the surrounding parish. Allihies Parish is located on the western tip of the Béara Peninsula and stretches between Cod's Head to the North West and Dursey Island to the South West. Allihies is the furthest village in Ireland from the capital, Dublin, some 394 km away by road.
History of copper mining
From the Bronze age up to the 1870s the area was a site of copper-mining. The most commercial and productive period being between 1812 and 1912 when 297,000 tons of ore were recorded as passing through Swansea from Allihies mines. An attempt was made to restart mining in the late 1950s by a Canadian mining company, but was not progressed.
There are three ruined Cornish engine houses visible from Allihies. The most prominent is the Mountain Mine man engine house, located on the mountain above the village and installed by the noted Cornish engineers Michael Loam and Son in 1862. The area saw large-scale emigration when the mine closed following a fall in the worldwide price of copper. Many miners went to Butte, Montana and the town has many families who trace their ancestry back to Allihies.
The Mountain Mine engine house has recently been conserved by the Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland. The finished conservation project and some of the underground mine workings were featured in a TV programme "Townlands" on RTÉ One in 2005.
The annual Allihies Festival traditionally takes place on the 15th of August. It usually features horse racing - a practice probably dating from the time of more widespread use of horses and ponies in the copper mining industry. It takes place in a setting between the ocean and the surrounding mountains. The festivities now extend through the week and feature music, bale tossing and other events.
In 2008-9 the village also hosted the Michael Dwyer Festival of Traditional Irish music, which commemorates the life of a Beara musician and composer.
In 2007 the parish was visited by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese for the opening of the museum, commemorating the area's mining heritage. The museum is housed in the chapel built by Cornish miners in 1845. The rich veins of copper at Allihies were discovered in 1812 and worked until 1884 and many Cornish mine captains, miners and craftsmen were employed alongside Irish people.
The village also attracted attention in June 1990 as having been deliberately chosen as one of the first places that Mary Robinson visited in her successful campaign for election as President of Ireland.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Allihies.|
- A. D. Mills, 2003, A Dictionary of British Place-Names, Oxford University Press
- The Berehaven Copper Mines, R.A. Williams, ISBN 0-9521173-0-4
- Allihies Copper Mines Museum Website
- Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland - Béara
- O'Leary & Burke Mary Robinson: The Authorised Biography (Dublin, 1998) p 126