Wicklow Gold-mines

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter VII-15 | Start of chapter

Bountifully has nature lavished her gifts upon the glens and mountains of Wicklow, for she has not only given beauty to its hills and valleys, but has enriched the bosom of the earth with her choicest treasures. Towards the close of the last century, a quantity of native gold, in lumps and grains, was picked up by the peasantry in a stream that descends from the Mountain of Croghan, which excited the most extravagant hopes respecting the existence of a mine of the precious metal. Government in consequence established works on the mountain-streams, and sunk mines for the purpose of obtaining the gold, but with such little success, that they were induced, after some time, to abandon the enterprise. We might almost fancy that the protecting spirits of these mountain solitudes, indignant at having their quiet haunts profaned by the sordid hunters after mammon, had converted the golden stores of the mountain into slates and stones, as the gifts bestowed by the fairies upon mortals are said to be changed into something vile and worthless. It is a strange fact, that from the 24th of August to the 15th of October, 1795—when government took possession of the prize—the quantity of gold collected in this vicinity was no less than two thousand six hundred and sixty-six ounces, which was sold on the spot for £10,000 of the Irish currency of the time; but since then rarely any gold has been found, and, if any, only in very small grains indeed.

Our tour through Wicklow is now drawn to a close:—but though unable to portray in words all the charms that embellish this romantic region, we trust that the lovely scenes upon which the pencil of our artist has been employed may create a taste for the beautiful in nature in the minds of many of our readers:—or haply the glimpses we have given of the sweet haunts of this fairyland, may tempt some English tourists from the banks of "the lazy Scheldt or wandering Po," to enjoy, amid the scenery of a sister isle,—

"The power, the beauty, and the majesty,

That have their haunts in dale or piny mountain,

Or forest by slow stream, or pebbly spring,

Or chasms, or watery depths."