340 million years ago – during the complex geological history of south Donegal – a short scarp of golden-yellow carboniferous sandstone was formed.
I head off to the mines in Drumkeelan, which were in operation up until the 1950s
The twenty-foot deep stone mine roof is supported by waste stone packed into pillars
I’m with Brian Kerrigan, family quarryman.
He shows me ‘free stone’ – stone free from cracks and clefts – the fare of these mines for many centuries, supplying famous buildings such as The National Museum of Ireland, The Dail and Stormont.
A carved sandstone lamp found here suggests mining started in the middle ages, by Cistercian monks who had Abbeys to build.
Today, despite all mechanisation, it isn’t easy running a quarry. As Brian says, a simple life is hard to find – due to ever increasing government regulation.
Here is Brian’s donation of a truckload of finest Drumkeelan stone for The Gathering of Stones
Thanks a million – from everyone at The Dry Stone Wall Association of Ireland.
Off to the center of Ireland with these Donegal stones – and a circle we shall build.
10 thoughts on “Drumkeelan Sandstone”
My dad’s family are from Drumkeelan. I shall tell him about this post!
Small world sdaedalus!
Does anyone know of the mcgroarty family drumkeelan?
Hello Maureen – Certainly shall ask on your behalf if you have christian names too, as there may be more than one branch.
The great stone cutter James McGroarty and his family are at the bottom of the Barney Arack, the hairpin bend that leads from the Drumkeelan mines back to Mountcharles. He had a very large family in the 70s and I believe that at least two of the sons carry on the skills.
I think that I made a mistake – the old fella in the 70s was BRIAN not James McGroarty.
Hiya…. my GGF Hugh Boyle worked with the Drumkeelan stone. Would anyone have any information or stories relating to him ?
Hello Kieran – I will definately ask about Hugh Boyle – what rough dates are we chatting?
What’s this sandstone like to sculpt?
James this is excellent quality stone for carving and sculpting – the best – because of its fine grain. Highly recommended by our craftsmen
If you are thinking of looking here and are unfamiliar with the area drop me an email and I’ll help you find it. firstname.lastname@example.org