Coal mining has
never been a large industry in Ireland, even though there are numerous
deposits across the country but not on nearly the same scale as
those in neighbouring England.
The largest mines were those at Castlecomer
in County Kilkenny these seams were laid down during the Carboniferous
period some 354 to 290 Million Years Ago, the Castlecomer coal fields
consist of three seams at different levels, the first is at between
50 and 100 feet beneath the surfase, this seam was about three feet
thick and was known as The Three foo Seam, the next was some 200
feet lower it was known as the Jarrow seam, still lower was the
Skehana seam which was about 600 feet beneath the surfase.
The coal found in the Castlecomer mines was
anthracite which is a smockless coal of very high quality, coal
from the Skehana seam was said to have been the highest quality
coal mined in Europe. The reason anthracite burns at such a high
tempature and relatively smoke free is that when it was being formed
it was subjected to extremely high pressures which forced out much
of the gas.
Click the following link to find out more
about the history of The Castlecomer
Read this interesting article from The Freeman’s
Journal Monday, May 7th 1917 urging the building of a railway
to carry the coal from Kilkenny.
The Newry Canal was
built to carry principally coal from County Tyrone to Dublin, the
Tyrone coal proved to be a bit of a dissapointment from a quality
point of view