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Coal Mining and Canal Building in County Tyrone in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

This is a collection of materials that I hope to shape into a more intelligible essay. It is a supplement to my page: McGoughs, McGeoughs and McGoughs in County Tyrone.

There is a significant coal field in the area of Drumglass and Coalisland in the barony of Dungannon, county Tyrone, Ireland. The civil parishes in which this coal field exists are Dungannon, Tullyniskan to the northeast of Dungannon, and Donaghenry to the northeast of Tullyniskan. The town of Coalisland is located in Tullyniskan and Donaghenry A canal from the coal field to the Blackwater river, which in turn enters Lough Neagh to the east, was dug through Tullyniskan parish and Clonoe parish, which is to the west of Tullyniskan and southwest of Donaghenry See: Map of the Civil Parishes of Co Tyrone on the County Tyrone Genealogy Website. The coal was plentiful, but difficult to mine economically because of the many breaks in the coal seams.

McGoughs lived in Dungannon when coal mining and canal building provided much of the employment in the area. One of my interests is whether Terence and Andrew McGough, who in the 1830s moved to St. Clair in the coal mining area of eastern Pennsylvania in Schuylkill county, might have come from Dungannon. See my page: McGoughs and McGues in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, in the 1800s.


 Table of Contents 

Short History of Coal Mining in County Tyrone

A short history of coal mining and canal building in county Tyrone will be found in Jonathan Bardon, A History of Ulster, Blackstaff Press, Belfast 1991, pages 203–5:

"Inland Navigations and Roads

"During the 1654 Civil Survey it was noted that coal was being mined at Tullyniskan in east Tyrone. More coal deposits were found nearby at Drumglass in 1692 and these were being exploited by somewhat crude techniques for a Dublin consortium soon afterwards. Then in 1723 Francis Seymour, an entrepreneur, leased land from the archbishop of Armagh and began mining by more sophisticated methods at Brackaville, soon to be known as Coalisland. Seymour sank a shaft 156 feet deep at his ‘Engine Pit’ and a few years later a ‘cut’ was begun to connect Coalisland to the Blackwater to take the coal to Lough Neagh [citing W. A. McCutcheon on The Industrial Archeology of Northern Ireland, Belfast, 1980, page 329].

"General George Monck, who restored Charles II to the throne, had suggested constructing a navigation between Lough Neagh and Newry, but it was not till 1703 that Francis Nevil, collector of Her Majesty’s Revenues in Ireland, was asked by the Irish parliament to carry out a survey ‘with a designe of drawing a Canal or making a Passage for Boats from the said Lough to the Sea’ [McCutcheon 52]. No further action was taken until 1729 when parliament set up the Commissioners of Inland Navigation for Ireland and levied duties on luxury goods to provide the new body with funds. The population of Dublin had increased sevenfold since 1660 and it was fast becoming the second city of the empire – a mushroom growth not possible without massive importation of British coal each year. Colliers had to face prevailing westerlies, and supplies of coal were expensive and unreliable. With the optimistic prospect that the Tyrone coalfield could supply the capital’s needs, the Newry Navigation was begun in 1731. Under the direction first of Sir Edward Lovett Pearce and then of his deputy, the Huguenot Richard Cassels, and finally of the English engineer Thomas Steers, the canal was completed in 1742 and on 28 March in the same year the Cope and the Boulter of Lough Neagh sailed into the port of Dublin with cargoes of Tyrone coal.

"The making of the Newry Navigation was a great engineering feat. A canal of fifteen locks, including the first stone lock chamber in Ireland, it crossed eighteen miles of rough country to a height of seventy-eight feet above sea level to connect Lough Neagh with the sea—the earliest true summit-level canal, pre-dating both the Sankey Cut at St. Helens and the Bridgewater Canal to Manchester. Never before in peacetime had so many men been put to work on a single project in Ireland, for it was excavated without machinery at 7d. a day for each man ‘provided with one good working tool, such as spade, pick, stubbing axe or shovel’. Between 1759 and 1769 a ship canal was made at Newry so that larger vessels could take the coal to Dublin [McCutcheon 49, Tony Canavan, Frontier Town: An Illustrated History of Newry, Belfast 1841].

"The Tyrone coalfield never achieved what was expected of it. Severe faulting made mining difficult—not to speak of the dangers run by the men working below, blasting seams with gunpowder and lighting their way with candles stuck in lumps of clay on their caps. A partnership formed in 1740 headed by Primate George Stone, was characterized by gross incompetence and corruption, and another created in 1756 squandered £12,000 of its government grant to little effect [McCutcheon 332]. Yet the Newry canal prospered; it was both a cause and a consequence of eighteenth-century prosperity in Ulster. Without the steadily improving economic prospects of the province’s hinterland the navigation would not have been built, and the new waterway stimulated the domestic linen industry in central Ulster by providing an inexpensive route for imported bleachers’ potash and exported cloth."

The story of the rise and fall of coal mining and canal building in Drumglass parish, county Tyrone, and the nearby parishes, is told in Coalisland, County Tyrone, in the Industrial Revolution, 1800–1901, by Austin Stewart (Four Courts Press, Dublin 2002).

Tyrone Precinct—A History of the Plantation Settlement of Dungannon and Mountjoy to Modern Times by W. R. Hutchison (Donaghmore Historical Society 1951), in chapter VIII Coal, pages 130–151, contains a comprehensive history of coal mining in the Dungannon area.

Civil Parish of Drumglass

Here is an excerpt from the article of July, 1834, on the parish of Drumglass, county Tyrone, by Lieutenant G. Dalton, from the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland (The Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University, Belfast, 1993), volume 20, page 43—Parishes of County Tyrone II 1825, 1833–5, 1840 Mid and East Tyrone:

"The parish is plentifully supplied with bogs in the adjoining parishes of Killyman, Donaghmore and Pomeroy, and coals from the pits in Killybrockey townland are both cheap and abundant. ...

"There is an extensive coalfield in this parish, the principal mine being in Killybrockey townland. It is worked with activity and supplies a large tract of country with good coal at a low rate, being sold at the pit mouth at 9s 2d a ton. The principal pit is worked with 2 steam engines, the largest being employed in clearing it of water and the smaller one in raising coal. The first is 70 and the latter 30 horsepower. The depth from the surface to the top of the coal is 128 yards, the seam is 4 feet high with a parting in it of slate or clearing 12 inches thick, leaving in it about 3 feet of pure coal.

"About the year 1760 a civil engineer named Greatorix stated to a committee of the Irish House of Commons that this coalfield was of sufficient extent to supply Dublin for 60 years, and on this report they subsequently granted the sum of 200,000 pounds to form a ship canal from the colliery to Dublin, taking advantage of Lough Neagh and the coast. The plan and estimate for this canal by Mr. Omer may be seen on the journals of the House. It was commenced but never completed. At a later period, Ducart, an Italian engineer, projected a canal from the colliery to Coalisland, having instead of locks, sleds or inclined plains with rollers, by means of which the empty vessel proceeding to the pit was with some slight mechanical assistance drawn up by the full one leaving it. He obtained a considerable from the House to enable him to put his plans into execution and the unfinished remains of it, principally in Tullyniskan parish, are still to be seen."

A modern map of the townlands of the civil parish of Drumglass calls Killybrockey Killybrackey and places it about 2 miles miles northeast of the center of the town of Dungannon. (On the map, it says Killybrack, but the index to the map calls it Killybrackey.)

Here is an excerpt from the description of the civil parish of Drumglass, county Tyrone, from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837 (part of an Irish genealogy web site 'From Ireland' ©Dr. Jane Lyons, Dublin, Ireland):

"Here are extensive collieries worked by the Hibernian Mining Company under lease from the Lord-Primate. The upper and best seam is about a foot thick; under it is a thin stratum of iron-stone, and then a seam of coal two feet thick. About 180 persons arc employed, who raise 500 tons weekly. A drift is being made from these works to coal beds on the Earl of Ranfurly’s estate, about a mile distant ; and a line of railway has been marked out from the collieries to the Tyrone canal at Coal Island."

Here is an article from The Armagh Guardian of June 10, 1845:

"DRUMGLASS COLLIERIES.—We are happy to learn that a rich and valuable seam of coal, much deeper seated than those previously worked, has been discovered in the Drumglass coal fields, county Tyrone. The coal is much superior to the former produce of those mines; and from its yielding 30 per cent. of good hard coal, will we trust amply remunerate the enterprizing workers, the “Hibernian Mining Company.” We are heartily rejoiced at this, and now that we have every prospect of having our internal resources developed, by the intersection of the country by railways, which will afford the much required facilities for the transit of agricultural and manufacturing pro duce, nothing is now wanted, but the certainty of a supply of cheap good fuel, to stimulate our wealthy citizens, to embark their dormant capital in manufacturing enterprize. If any doubt existed on this subject, it is now resolved. Calling to mind the great extent of the Tyrone coal basin, ascertained to be upwards of nine miles by three, that it is unquestionable, it ranges as far south as Moy and Benburb seven miles more, that no instance occurs in the great mining districts of England, where an equal number of beds lie so thick and near each other, that Dr. KANE has pronounced the coals as “excellent”, as “applicable to every use in industry to which coal is applied in England,” who can hesitate in believing, but, that this portion of the north, will soon become the busy seat of more varied arts and manufactures, that those now suffering depression will speedily be resuscitated, that extensive employment will be given to hands anxious for labour, and that thus the blessings of industrial prosperity will be diffused over the land.

There is another copy of the article on Rootsweb.

Included in The Staples Papers (D/1567) at PRONI are:

"accounts for the Drumglass colliery in Co. Tyrone, 1787-1790, with details of the erection of the steam engine there, 1783-1788."

Included in The Armagh Diocesan Registry Archive (DIO/4, T/729, T/848, T/1056, T/1066-7, T/3123 and MIC/2) at PRONI are:

"accounts between Primate Robinson and the Sardinian architect/engineer, Davis Dukart,* 1769-1778, for the Primate's share in the Drumglass colliery, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone."

*Daviso de Arcort—see below.

See also: Drumglass Canal Papers (D/1701) PRONI.

Here is an excerpt from The International Canal Monuments List—Individual structures—B Inclined planes:

"It was gradually realized that larger inclined planes could be used in very hilly country to overcome large changes in level, initially with the use of very small boats. In such situations the alternative would have been the use of great flights of locks, expensive to build, slow to use, and requiring large amounts of water. The other, less common alternative, was a boat lift (see below).

"A Sardinian-born engineer, Daviso de Arcort, was the first to design such long inclines on small 'tub-boat' canals in hill country. He probably knew of existing short Italian inclines from first-hand knowledge or from books such as Leone Battista Alberti's De re aedificatoria (1485) or Cornelius Meijer's L'Arte de restituire a Roma la tralasciata navigatione (1685). In 1767 he began the construction of three inclined planes on a canal from Drumglass collieries, County Tyrone (Ireland), towards the river Blackwater. The eminent British engineers John Smeaton and his assistant William Jessop suggested that these inclines should be made double and counterbalanced. Davis Ducart (as de Arcort was known in Ireland) then substituted cradles on rails rather than the rollers on wooden ramps he had previously built. Even with these crucial innovations these inclines were abandoned largely unused."

"Sites ...

"iv The three inclines built by Daviso de Arcort near Coalisland, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland (UK), 1767-77.
Grading: Grading: 1. **; 2. ***; 3. *. Total: 6
The first was on the Drumglass colliery canal 862m from Coalisland basin with a rise of 16.7m; the second was 772m further on at Drumreagh House, with a rise of 20m. The third was just west of Farlough Lake, with a rise of 21m. The inclines were originally to be single water-wheel powered ramps, but there proved to be insufficient water and so counterbalanced railed inclines were substituted with horse gins to help the 2-tonne boats over the sills. Little traffic passed the inclines and they were abandoned in 1787. There may have been insufficient water for the working of the upper canal or the inclines may have been too steep for effective counterbalanced working. Substantial remains of these first long inclines, the first also fitted with upstanding rails, and the first to be worked by counterbalanced working, can still be seen. They were also important for sowing the idea of canal inclined planes in Britain and Ireland as the Industrial Revolution was starting."

Here is an excerpt from an article on the city of Armagh in Lewis's Topographical Directory of Ireland, 1837:

"The city is plentifully supplied with turf, and coal of good quality is brought from the Drumglass and Coal Island collieries, 11 miles distant."

Here is an advertisement from The Newry Commercial Telegraph, Newry, County Armagh and County Down, of February 29, 1828:

8th day of March next, at the hour of TWELVE
o’Clock at noon (if not previously disposed of,)
of KILMEAL, (late the residence of WILLIAM
MURRAY, Esq. deceased,) handsomely situated, and
within three minutes walk of the Town of Dungannon.—
This is a most desirable residence for a Country Gentle-
man, being so contiguous to one of the best Market
Towns in the North of Ireland, enjoying the advantages
of a well established Classical School, at present conduct-
ed by the Rev. MORTIMER O’SULLIVAN, and in the
immediate vicinity of the Collieries of DRUMGLASS
and commodious, with suitable OFFICES, all in perfect
Order, with an excellent GARDEN, enclosed with a
Wall, and well Stocked. The GROUNDS contain
about 34 Acres, of excellent quality, and in a high state of
Cultivation, having an abundance of LIME-STONE
and SPRING WATER, and are held by Lease for Lives
Renewable for Ever.

And also an adjoining FARM, containing 21A. 0R. 4P.
held by Lease for One Life, at the small Yearly Rent of
£25 11s. 0d.

Immediate possession may be had.

Particulars may be known on application (if by letter,
post-paid,) to ANDREW NEWTON, Solicitor,
DUNGANNON ; or at 22, Capel street, DUBLIN ; or to
Mr. ROBERT SMITH, DUNGANNON—either of whom
will receive Proposals, and agree with a Purchaser.

Civil Parishes of Donaghenry and Tullyniskan; the town of Coalisland

Here is an excerpt from the article of January, 1834, on the parish of Donaghenry, county Tyrone, by Lieutenant C. Bailey from the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland (The Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University, Belfast, 1993), volume 20, page 38—Parishes of County Tyrone II 1825, 1833–5, 1840 Mid and East Tyrone:

"Coalisland is a small town. situated partly in the parish of Donaghenry and partly in the parish of Tullyniskan <Tullaniskan> and is connected with Lough Neagh by a canal which admits barges of 70 tons burden. It trades with belfast, Newry and Portadown in grain, iron, timber and coals. ...

"There are a great many limestone and several freestone quarries in the parish, with plenty of gravel and sand. Coal used to be dug in the townlands of Brackaville and Annaghone but the pits have been closed for the last few years. There is every appearance of coal in the valley between the townlands of High Cross and Sessia; indeed, some carts full have actually been procured there."

Here is an excerpt from the article of July, 1834, on the parish of Tullyniskan, county Tyrone, by Lieutenant G. Dalton from the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland (The Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University, Belfast, 1993), volume 20, page 140—Parishes of County Tyrone II 1825, 1833–5, 1840 Mid and East Tyrone:


"In the townland of Darry (modernly— Derry) is a coalfield which supplies the immediate neighbourhood and from which quantities of coal are sent by water to Newry and Belfast, being shipped by lighters from Coalisland. The mine is worked by a gin turned by horses, the depth of the shaft being 70 yards. The coal is sold at the same rate s the Drumglass collieries, and is considered equally good. The seam is 3 and a half feet in thickness."

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Oileán a'Ghuail
[[Image:|100px|Shield of Coalisland]]
[[Image: |175px|Flag of Coalisland]]
Location of Coalisland
Map highlighting Coalisland
WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates:
54.542° N 6.694° W
Province: Ulster
County: County Tyrone
District: Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough
County Town:
(2001): 4,917 -Town:

Coalisland (Oileán a'Ghuail in Irish) is a small town in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, with a population of 4,917 people (in 2001 Census).

As its name suggests, it was a centre for coal mining and is also known as the birthplace of Dennis Taylor.

See: Coalisland on A Flavour of Tyrone website under Towns and Villages.

See: The Coalisland Canal where it is said: "Sadly the Tyrone coal deposits proved to be of inferior quality and all too often coal was carried in the opposite direction."

Graveyard Information
Path: HistoryFromHeadstones > Maps
Coalisland RC

County : Tyrone

Denomination : Roman Catholic

Graveyard Name : Coalisland RC

Civil Parish : Donaghenry

Town / Townland : Brackaville

OS Reference : H838669 (On Sheet 19, Armagh, of the 1:500 Map of the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

The cemetery is about a half a kilometer northwest of the center of the town of Coalisland. The townland to the east of Brackaville is Annagher (in the civil parish of Clonoe), and to the south, Derry and Gortnaskea (in the civil parish of Tullyniskan). To the south of Annagher is Gortgonis (in the civil parish of Tullyniskan), where the map is marked "works." The town of Coalisland lies in the civil parish of Tullyniskan. The townlands of Derry and Gortnaskea abut Coalisland on the west, and the townland of Gortgonis abuts it on the east. Townland maps are available on County Tyrone Genealogy on Rootsweb.

The Coalisland Spade Mill was originally located in the townland of Derry in the civil parish of Tullyniskan.


Coalisland Canal or "The Tyrone Navigation"

Here are excerpts from the article of July, 1833, on the parish of Clonoe, county Tyrone, by Lieutenant G. Dalton from the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland (The Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University, Belfast, 1993), volume 20, pages 30–1—Parishes of County Tyrone II 1825, 1833–5, 1840 Mid and East Tyrone:


"The Tyrone Canal, partly in this and partly in Tullyniskan parish, runs parallel and close to the Torrent river, by a portion of whose waters it is fed. It is under the direction of the Board of Public Works and was made between the years 1746 and 1752 at an expense of 20,000 pounds, granted by the Irish Parliament with a view to the encouragement of the Tyrone collieries, which had been but a short time previously discovered and which were then confidently calculated upon for supplying Dublin from Drumglass for a period of at least half a century. Its length from the head of the basin at Coalisland to to the point where it enters the Blackwater river is 4 and a q1uarter miles, with a fall of 42 feet, having in this distance 6 single and one double lock, constructed with cut stone to admit lighters of 70 tons burthen upon 6 feet of water. The outward trade consists of coal, grain of all kinds, cut stone, firebrick, tiles, pottery ware, fire clay and common brick'; inwards of timber, slates, flax seed, lead ore for the potteries, and all the heavy description of goods, tallow and groceries.

"The cargoes inward last year were 389, averaging 50 tons each lighter. Each one pays a toll of 2s 4d out and 18s 5d for the cargo inward, except for seed which only pays 2 s 4d, the sum charged upon empty boats. Some alteration in these charges is intended at the end of the present year. As many articles o home produce are exempt from toll, the annual amount received does not exceed 160 pounds, but were the rates upon the ordinary scale it would pay about 400 pounds.

"It was originally intended to extend this canal to Drumglass colliery, but the project failed from an insufficient supply of water. A civil engineer named Ducart attempted several years afterwards to carry this plan into execution, for an account of which see the statistical report of Drumglass and Tullyniskan parishes. ...

"Tyrone Navigation

"The Tyrone Navigation consists of 4 and a quarter miles of a canal extending from the Blackwater river to Coalisland. It was originally intended to extend this canal to the Drumglass collieries, but the supply of water was found insufficient. To overcome this difficulty, an Italian engineer named Ducart projected a canal from Coalisland to the collieries, having slides or inclined planes with rollers instead of locks, by means of which the empty vessel proceeding to the pit was by some slight mechanical assistance drawn up by the laden vessel coming down. He obtained a considerable grant from the House of Commons to enable him to put his plan into execution, and the unfinished remains of the work are still to be seen in Tullyniskan parish."

NEWSLETTER OF THE INLAND WATERWAYS ASSOCIATION OF IRELAND, volume 27, number 3, Autumn 2000 [For a link to this article, go to IWAI—The Irish Inland Waterways and look under Closed Navigations—Coalisland Canal.]:

"The Wonder-Working Canal by Thomas McIlvenna

"At the dawn of the eighteenth century, East Tyrone was regarded as one vast coalfield—while in Dublin, the new aristocracy didn't relish being at the mercy of a British monopoly to heat their fine houses. Some of them, who were also Tyrone coalpit owners, felt it ridiculous to pay eighteen shillings (90p) per ton for imported fuel when they were part-owners of a massive coalfield. The problem was transporting the coal to Dublin: the cost of hauling it by horse and cart, even just to the port of Newry, was prohibitive.

"In 1729, Francis Seymour, who owned coalmines in Brackaville, Co Tyrone, wrote his pamphlet Remarks on a Scheme for Supplying Dublin with Coals. He wanted to build a canal from the main deposits in Drumglass, outside Dungannon, to connect with the Torrent and Blackwater rivers, allowing access to Lough Neagh. From there, the Upper Bann and another canal would lead into Newry, whence seagoing vessels would carry the coal to Dublin.

"That same year the Commissioners of Inland Navigation were set up to initiate civil engineering projects using funds from new taxes; they immediately authorised the Newry Canal. Work had barely begun when they realised that the waterway would never fulfil its purpose, since it would not come anywhere near the Tyrone coalfields. A north-west extension was needed; a rushed and haphazard survey plotted a course over 4.5 miles of bog and sand. The instructions stated that this extension, with its grand title The Tyrone Navigation, would begin at a chosen point on the River Blackwater, a landmark that still bears that name, and proceed to the rising ground of Gort na Sgeach, the field of the thorns, where a large pool or basin would form its terminus.

"Late 1732 or early 1733 witnessed the final planning; many of the future problems stemmed from ill-informed decisions at this stage. The most serious flaw was placing the terminus four miles from the main mines in Drumglass, despite the fact that the waterway was supposed to eliminate costly overland haulage. One view is that the planners were courageous pioneers from whose mistakes later canal builders were to learn much; another view is that they were a mixture of charlatans and idiots. In any case, these men found themselves engaged in an enterprise requiring skills they did not possess and a technology that had yet to be developed. None of the early canal builders were qualified engineers in the modern sense; the most knowledgeable of them were only millwrights. Their understanding of physics was superficial and their limited experience of large machinery proved of little benefit in their predicament.

"On 28 March 1742 the first cargo of Tyrone coal sailed into Dublin on board the Cope, but although the coal had been mined in Drumglass and delivered via the newly opened Newry Canal, it had been hauled by horse and cart from the pits to Lough Neagh. By 1750 apprehension was growing in the capital at the lack of progress. A parliamentary subcommittee appointed a Mr Parkinson to investigate; his report is an account of inefficient management, bad workmanship and serious engineering problems.

"By 1752 the disappointment of private investors was turning to anger. One irate Dubliner wrote to the commissioners: 'It is above twenty years since this wonder-working canal was first set about. And except for a few puffs in Faulkner's Newspapers, what relief has the city of Dublin had by the mighty produce of the Tyrone Collieries?'

"The Navigation Board, the new umbrella organisation incorporating all the commissioners since 1751, replied that 'excessive rains' that summer had prevented the completion of the works. This misleading reply gave the impression that the canal was almost finished. Nothing could have been further from the truth. By the early 1770s a basin had been dug but its feeder river, the Torrent, was filling it up with silt and stones, making the first two locks unworkable. There was a large flat area out in the middle of this basin for dumping coal; this 'coal island' would give its name to the town that would grow up around it.

"As each engineering fiasco came to light—leaking locks, rugged towpaths, flooding, draining and sinking machinery—more and more money was spent to correct it. Why did this unmitigated disaster seem to have unlimited resources? The answer lies in Dublin politics. An anti-English parliamentary faction, the Undertakers, seized control of the financial committees in 1755, empowering themselves to deny the English Crown certain taxes on the grounds that expenditure in Ireland warranted it. But when the pro-English faction regained control, resources remained unaffected because canals were becoming successful in England: the theory was that a little more effort would make Irish canals workable too.

"Just as the operation reached crisis point, resources were diverted into a major calamity. In an attempt to extend the canal to the main coalfield, a Franco-Italian architectural engineer, who became known as Daviso Duckart, attempted to drive a new channel over the ever-rising ground to the pits. He dispensed with locks and introduced three 'inclined planes', later called 'dry hurries': large sloping stone bridges with up to 12 arches. Barges were to be hauled up and down them on rollers and then deposited in the adjoining levels of the waterway. The vain and desperate struggle to make these structures operate is an entire story on its own; as the dry hurries failed, the expensive extension—and Duckart's reputation—went down with them.

"In 1787, after 55 years, the Tyrone Navigation was officially opened. Tyrone coal reached the Dublin market at 28 shillings a ton, but the citizens of the capital preferred the dearer foreign fuel because of its superior quality. A story of the time tells how the MP for Monaghan said that when a gentleman's house caught fire accidentally, the best way he knew of putting out such a fire was to shovel on plenty of Dungannon coal!

"Trade in other goods was slow and parts of the canal fell into disuse. Fortunately, one Daniel Monks made a very detailed report with suggestions for improvement. After another injection of £20,000, the Tyrone Navigation, or Coalisland Canal, was saved. Locks were rebuilt, the basin was dredged and properly walled, wharves were constructed, towpaths were gravelled, lockkeepers' cottages were provided and puddling clay was used for the first time. Sheds and stores were erected around the basin, soon to become the permanent dwellings of the workforce and merchants who would build the foundations of Coalisland.

"Although profits remained low, the Coalisland Canal provided a means of transport for goods to and from several towns and villages in a wide hinterland. Towards the end of the 19th century the railways posed a serious threat — as did the motorised lorry after World War 1. The peak tonnage was 57,000 tons in 1931, but a steady loss of faith in water transport could be seen in the attitude of local companies, even though John Stevenson and Company remained loyal to the end. That came in 1946 with the sailing of the last commercial lighter; 1961 saw the filling in of the basin. One lighter, the Eliza, was buried where she lay — just where the carpark of the Cornmill Heritage Centre is now situated."

Coal Mining in Other Parts of Ireland

Kilkenny Coal. The parish of Castlecomer in the county of Kilkenny "contains the principal portion of the extensive coal field of the district. The coal is of a kind commonly called Kilkenny coal, which, containing no bitumen, burns without blaze or smoke." Anthracite coal was mined in the Castlecomer region from about 1640 to 1969, when the last of the mines was closed. See: History of Mining in The Castlecomer Area. This article is part of the website: Coal Mining in Castlecomer. See: The train that once linked Castlecomer and Kilkenny.

Coal mining in Slieveardagh. "The coalfields of Slieveardagh are a continuum of the Carlow, Laois and Kilkenny coal vein." Slieverdagh is in the parish of Ballingarry, South Tipperary.

Here is an excerpt from the article on Ireland (Geology) in a 1911 encyclopedia:

"South of the line between Galway and Dublin the coal is anthracitic, while north of this line it is bituminous. The northern coalfields are the L. Carboniferous one at Ballycastle, the high outliers of Millstone Grit and Coal-Measures round Lough Allen, and the Dungannon and Coalisland field in county Tyrone. The last named is in part concealed by Triassic strata. The only important occurrences of coal in the south are in eastern Tipperary, near Killenaule, and in the Leinster coalfield (counties Kilkenny and Carlow and Queens County), where there is a high synclinal field, including Lower and Middle Coal-Measures, and resembling in structure the Forest of Dean area in England."

See: Lignite in Ballymoney. Lignite is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere been peat and coal. Lignite is used as fuel for generating electricity. As geological processes apply pressure to peat over time, it is transformed successively into lignite, sub-bituminous coal, bituminous coal, and finally anthracite.

See: Ireland's Mining Industry in 1896 - An Index.

The Coal Mines of County Leitrim, Province of Connaught—1896

The Coal Mines of County Roscommon, Province of Connaught—1896

The Coal Mines of County Sligo, Province of Connaught—1896

The Coal Mines of County Kilkenny, Province of Leinster—1896

The Coal Mines of Queen's County, Province of Leinster—1896

The Coal Mines of County Tipperary, Province of Munster—1896

The Coal Mines of County Antrim, Province of Ulster—1896

The Coal Mines of County Tyrone, Province of Ulster—1896

Coal Mining in County Tyrone in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Updated June 6, 2010  
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