On the banks of the River Avoca between The Meetings of the Waters and the village of Avoca, the Avoca Mines once straddled the valley, consisting of sites at West Avoca, Ballygahan and the larger Ballymurtagh mines. Mining played a hugely important role in the history of Avoca and today the remains of seven engine houses, a mineral tramway arch, set against the colourful mine landscape still exist here.
In this area copper and associated products were mined dating back probably to Roman times - Ptolemy’s map of Ireland in AD150 marks Oboka (Avoca), suggesting that the Romans knew of the Wicklow ore.
Over the years, local and international entrepreneurs mined in Avoca for copper, lead, sulphur and other minerals. Associated with the extraction of copper in the Avoca Mines was iron pyrites (Fools Gold) from which sulphur is extracted.
Sulphur, extracted from pyrite, while considered a secondary product to the extraction of copper ore from the mines, was at times very profitable and was also a vital component in munitions manufacture which the Kynoch Factory in Arklow utilized during World War One.
Since the Avoca Mine site closure in 1982, the buildings have fallen into disrepair and if you are visiting the area, please be mindful of the existence of numerous public hazards. The site consists of openings into old unsafe underground mine workings. These, along with open pits with steep high walls, water bodies and spoil piles with elevated metals, present a hazard to the public. Please observe signage in place in the area.
You may also wish to visit the White Cross or Miners cross on the top of the hill overlooking the Avoca Mines and Valley. Erected in 1952 to commemorate the Miners of the Avoca valley, it was originally made in timber but more recently has been replaced with a painted steel version. Enjoy stunning views of the Vale of Avoca from this spot!