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have beaten out of the dangerous and fatal English channel. No matter what wind is blowing, vessels from the west coast of Ireland obtain an offing at once.
When the Irish shall have cut the ship canal through their country from Galway to Dublin, so long proposed, but defeated by English selfishness, it will save three or four days' sailing and two days' steaming, for English vessels to and from Liverpool and Milford Haven (which is to be the great English port of the future).
This consideration led Benjamin Franklin, writing to Sir Edward Newenham in Ireland, in 1779, to say: “I admire the spirit with which I see the Irish are at length determined to claim some share of that freedom of commerce which is the right of all mankind; but which they have been so long deprived of by the abominable selfishness of their fellow-subjects. To enjoy all the advantages of the climate, soil, and situation in which God and nature have placed us, is as clear a right as that of breathing, and can never be justly taken from men but as a punishment for some atrocious crime."
The unchanging elements of national prosperity, together with native government, are, first,-intelligence and aptitude in the people, which Ireland possesses abundantly; secondly,-geographical position; thirdly,-fertility of soil; fourthly,—mildness of climate. All these Ireland has in a specially favorable degree. Then follow the possession of extensive minerals, particularly iron, coal, clay and stone; intersecting rivers, with copious water-power; rich fisheries, sea and river; and abundance of fertilizing substances.
Matthew Carey, of Philadelphia (“Vindiciæ Hibernicæ," 1819), said, after thorough study of the subject: “There is probably not a country in the world, which, for its extent, is one-half so abundantly supplied with the most precious minerals and fossils, as Ireland."
The following summary of Ireland's mineral treasures is from official surveys and reports (corrected to the latest issue), the figures prefixed to the minerals denoting the number of counties (there are thirty-two counties in Ireland) in which they have been discovered:
2. Amethysts. 6. Antimony. 15. Coal.
7. Cobalt. 17. Copper,
I. Chalcedony. 8. Crystals. 19. Clays of various
sorts, 5. Fuller's earth, 6. Gold.
2. Garnites (decayed
granite used in
porcelain). II. Granite.
These minerals are at present nearly all buried in mine and quarry: none is being worked, except to an insignificant extent.
Nearly all the minerals used in Ireland to-day, and for over eighty years past, have been imported from England and other countries. The people cannot get possession of the mineral lands; the landlords will not work them; there are no railroads to bring the ores to market or the sea-coast, or to move fuel for manufacture; and where railroads do exist, they are controlled by English capital that deliberately charges a death-rate to Irish industries; and lastly, as will be seen later on, the policy of the government has been to smother and prevent the growth of all mineral industries in Ireland.
Yet so vast and varied are the riches of many of these Irish minerals, notably of iron, copper, lead, marbles, porphyry, glasssand, potter's clay, sulphur and slate, that the development of these alone would (technically, not merely digging and exporting) make Ireland a prosperous country.
But to follow a single subject, it is necessary to use severe restraint in treating of Irish resources, so enticing and extraordinary is the field. Let us set out at once for the gold-fields, and perhaps return to the others by-and-by.
The extensive existence of gold, with the governmental policy of suppressing the working of it, is an epitome of the entire British treatment of Ireland.
The most ancient Celtic annals agree with the latest geological authorities in declaring Ireland to be exceedingly rich in native gold.
In the ancient Book of Leinster, and also in the Book of Lucan, it is recorded that Tighernmas, son of Ollaig, first “boiled” (or smelted) gold in 1500 B.C., in the forest south of the Liffey. Here is this first Irish record of using the gold of the Wicklow valleys, 3000 years ago, when in the "inviolate delightful place of Ucadon, the artist of Cualann":
“The gold was first boiled in Erinn;
Upon his woody sportful lawn
In the forests south of the Liffey." The Book of Leinster, a superb MS., dating from the year 1150, when it was transcribed from ancient MSS., is preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. On folio 246 there is another record of the ancient knowledge of gold in Ireland: “The reason why the men of Leinster are called “ Lagenians of the Gold' is this, because in their country gold was first discovered in Erinn."
In A. D. 706, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, the relics of Ronan, son of Bearach, were placed in a shrine of gold and silver.
In 1151 Turlough O'Brien took with him to Connaught “ten score ounces of gold," recorded in Sir William Wilde's “Catalogue of the Royal Irish Academy."
This work of Sir William Wilde is an invaluable collection of authorities on Irish antiquities. The student will find in almost all the ancient Irish MSS. and other records descriptions of the golden ornaments of the primitive Irish. “A greater number and variety of antique articles of gold have been found in Ireland,” says Sir William Wilde, “than in any other country of Northwestern Europe.
.. Our museum (of the Royal Irish Academy) is rich in golden objects, containing more than five hundred specimens. Pins, fibulæ and brooches having been discovered in Ireland in immense quantities and variety, some of which are unsurpassed for design and workmanship. .... Those magnificent specimens of silver and gold found in Ireland of late years had reached a degree of perfection which modern art can with difficulty imitate.”
Fortunately for Irish art, it cannot be confounded with that of any other country. The forms of many Irish brooches and pins are identical, for instance, with those found in Scandinavia ; but those of Scandinavia are all of bronze, while those of Ireland are of gold and silver, and are ornamented with the unique involved spiral or serpent coil, called by Kemble the Opus Hibernicum, which is the antiquary's sure test to distinguish national from imported work.
In the Preface to the translation of Keating's “ History of Ireland” (London, 1727) is engraved a beautiful cap or crown of gold, elaborately ornamented, which was dug up in 1692 at Barnanely, county Tipperary. It was found ten feet under ground, at the bottom of a dried bog, by workmen who were digging peat. The crown weighs about five ounces, and from the decoration (which is without the Cross, a sign almost invariably used on the royal insignia of Ireland) it is presumed to antedate the conversion of Ireland in the fifth century.
In 1169 (Wilde's “ Catalogue Royal Irish Academy Museum") Donough O'Carroll died after bestowing 300 ounces of gold on clerics and churches.
In Dr. Keating's “ History of Ireland” (p. 526, edition of London, 1727) we read : “Turlough O'Connor [who became king A.D. 1130], King of Ireland, did not long survive this battle (Moinmore), but died in the sixty-eighth year of his age, and was interred with great solemnity near the great altar of Ciaran at Cluain Mac Nois (Clonmacnois). This prince left to the clergy of the kingdom 540 ounces of gold, 40 marks of silver, all his jewels, plate, horses, arms, bows, quivers, arrows and all his military equipage."
After the Norman conquest of England (see Deslarnes's “History of Caen ") that country paid an annual tribute of 23,740 marks of silver to the Treasury of Caen, while from Ireland were exacted 400 marks of silver and 400 ounces of gold, an enormous sum of money for those times.
Giraldus Cambrensis, writing of Ireland in 1 200, says the country "abounded in gold."
"The quantity of antique manufactured gold ornaments dug up in Ireland, even in recent times," says Sir William Wilde (essay on “ Antiquities of Ireland”), “ has been estimated as exceeding half a million of money" (two and a half million dollars); and he adds : “As much more may be lying beneath our feet, for every year as new cuttings are made for railroads, or bogs are drained, deposits of gold ornaments come to light. Two or three years ago a deposit of massive gold bracelets, in value nearly £5000, as bright and beautiful as if just finished, was dug up in Carlow; and still more recently several antique gold frontlets were found by a laborer while digging, who, unconscious of their value, threw them to his children." Sir William Wilde rescued these frontlets (which the man was cutting up into nose-rings for his pigs), and they are now in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy. The form of the ornament is beautiful and classic-a half-moon diadem, resembling closely some seen in Etruscan sculpture.
It was stated at the time of this discovery that these and other antique ornaments found in Ireland were not native, but imported; but the Royal Irish Academy was patriotic enough to have these and other ancient ornaments tested, and the analysis proved that the metal was identical with the gold abundantly found in the County Wicklow.
In Hunt's “ British Mining” (p. 902) we find these figures: "In 1852 Ireland produced 32,220 ounces of silver; in 1883, 2910 ounces.” In “ Mineral Statistics" (1883) it is stated: “Since 1796 from £35,000 to £60,000 worth of gold has been found in Wicklow, including nuggets of 24 ounces and 22 ounces.” These figures are enormously understated, there being no official record of the amount of gold found. The fact is, there has been and is to-day a constant search for gold going on by the people in the neighborhood of the auriferous valleys and hills, but their “finds” are kept secret, as the British Crown claims the ownership of all gold-mines in Ireland.
According to Sir William Wilde there are seven assured goldbearing districts in Ireland, by far the most important being those of the County Wicklow. This county is extraordinarily rich in minerals. In the Ballinvalley stream alone, a scientific authority, Mr. William Mallett, found the following minerals:
Mr. Arthur G. Ryder, A. I. C.E.I., manager of the Ovoca Mineral Company, testifies to the existence of the above minerals in the County Wicklow, and adds the following, some of which have been quite recently discovered: Cement, zinc, antimony, arsenic, brick-marl, coal, cobalt, slate, paving-sets, and marble, silver and sulphur in abundance.
Mr. Ryder says:
“ There are at least two mining districts in the county; in the more northerly, the mineral belt is about nine miles long by four miles wide; the local rocks are principally granitic; and the principal mineral found is argentiserous lead, containing about 70 per cent, lead and 6 ounces of silver to the ton. Here are situated the famous Luganure Mines, which have been more or less worked for sixty years, have yielded as much as £7000 profit in one year, have produced £138,756 worth of minerals in twenty years (1834-53), and in which were found, in 1861, 2850 ounces of native silver (capillary) associated with black sulphuret. Formerly five hundred miners were employed here. To-day the number is about thirty-five. No gold has yet been discovered in this district. The second, or Ovoca mineral district, is about 16 miles long by two miles wide, and comprises Gold Mines Valley, Ballymurtagh, Ballygahan, Tygroney, Cronebane, Connorree, Stroughmore, Kilmacoo, Kilmacrea, and Ballycapple Mines. . . . . . Vast reserves of iron pyrites exist, containing from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent. of sulphur, and in some cases over six ounces of silver to the ton."
Gold has been found in the following places in Ireland: In a quartz vein at Bray Head, County Wicklow; in the pyrites lode, Ovoca, County Wicklow; in a quartz lode at Ballymanus, County Wicklow; in a copper lode at Dhurode, County Cork; in the mountain of Crochan Kinshela, Wicklow (an ancient and most valuable field); at Moyola river, Londonderry; in Connorree and Kilmacoo, Wicklow ; in the mountains of Limerick, and other places. In Kilmacoo the result of working (in 1885) was half an ounce of gold per ton in the ochreous cap of the bluestone lode.
In the Ballinvalley stream, in 1770, a man named Byrne picked up a nugget of pure gold weighing 22 ounces. Thinking it was copper, he used it as a weight for sixteen years, when a peddler purchased it from him and resold it in Dublin for a large sum. This discovery created such excitement that hundreds of women and boys assembled to look for gold. In six weeks, according to