Ballacorkish mine


Ballacorkish, or Rushen mines as it had been better known, lies on the hillside above the village of Colby and the only evidence of  it's existence today is marked by a chimney.

There has been reference to veins in the area being worked in the eighteenth century but these were abandoned before 1811. Work resumed when the mines were reopened in 1862 and developed on two lodes. Two shafts had been sunk 600 yards apart and the sett was worked as two separate mines which were known simply as North and South with no connections being made underground. The North, or Phosphate shaft (Rushen mine) was sunk to a depth of 360 feet (60 fathoms) with levels at 15, 30, 45 and 60 fathoms. The bottom levels were driven for 180 feet south and 780 feet north. The South shaft  (Ballacorkish) was sunk to a depth of 450 feet (75 fathoms) with levels driven at 12, 24, 36, 60 and the bottom at 75 fathoms which had been driven to a length of 390 feet south and 1470 feet north. Both mines had to pump water out at the rate of about thirty gallons per minute but an adit level driven from the main road also helped to drain the mine and reduce the pumping cost.

The chief mineral was lead but a significant amount of zinc and a small amount of copper was produced. The total production by 1894 was 3,600 tons of lead ore, 2,500 tons of zinc ore and 138 tons of copper ore. Although the mine was not highly productive and profit was low, there was no mention of loss.

An attempt to gain access to the mine via the adit level was made by the mines group in July of 1986 but the size of the level had been reduced to eighteen inches by the construction of a stone lining. Serving no other purpose than to drain the workings, the men must have entered the mine from the shaft top. A further attempt was made via the South shaft a short distance up onto the hillside which was found to be blocked some twenty feet below the collar of the shaft. Since then, the blockage has fallen to adit giving new opportunity to gain access to the level.

The miners, at the beginning of a shift each day would meet at the adit level, which is also known as 'Clucas way' and is opposite the Colby garage. Today that part of the village is simply known as the Level.

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