The Wicklow Gold Mines

[From the Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 15, October 6, 1832]

In Ireland, county of Wicklow, seven miles west of Arklow, about the year 1770, there was an old schoolmaster, who used frequently to entertain his neighbours with accounts of the richness of their valley in gold: and his practice was to go out in the night to search for the treasure. For this he was generally accounted insane. But in, some years after, bits of gold were found in a mountain stream, by various persons; and, in 1796, a piece weighing about half an ounce. The news of this having circulated amongst the peasantry, such an infatuation took possession of the minds of the people, that every sort of employment, save that of acquiring wealth by the short process of picking it up out of the streams, was abandoned; and hundreds of human figures were to be seen bending over the waters, and scrutinizing every object there to be seen. In this way, during six weeks, no less than 800 ounces of gold were found, which sold for £3 15s. per ounce, or £3,000. Most of the gold was found in grains; many pieces weighed between two and three ounces; there was one of five ounces, and one of twenty-two. It contained about 6 per cent. of silver. Government soon undertook the works; but the amount of gold found, while superintended by the appointed directors, was only £3,671. It then appeared that there was no regular vein in the mountain, and that these fragments had probably existed in a part of the mountain which time had mouldered away, and left its more permanent treasure as the only monument of its ancient existence. The works were at length discontinued.—Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia.