Copper Coast Geopark Ltd.
Co. Waterford,

Tel: +353 (0)51 292828

Mining Heritage

Tankardstown Engine HouseThe cliffs west of Bunmahon were mined for lead, silver and copper in the 18th Century. However the main phase of activity was the mid 19th century when the mines east of Bunmahon were worked by the Mining Company of Ireland. Their operation fell into two phases.

1825-1850: Knockmahon
The Mining Company of Ireland was established in Dublin in 1824 and quickly took leases on mineral areas all over the country. Knockmahon proved to be the most profitable of all their operations though it took ten years of development before they began to be profitable By 1840 it was described  as 'the most important --- mining district in the empire'. This proved to be the peak, however, and by the mid 1840s they were working at depths of almost a quarter of a mile and the same distance under the sea bed at increasing expense. In their search for other lodes in the neighbourhood they discovered Tankardstown just as Knockmahon was threatening to flood.
1850-1880: Tankardstown
In 1850 the company began to move their entire operation east to Tankardstown, including engines and engine houses. Over the next 15 years the price of copper fluctuated and the company varied their production and sales accordingly. A peak was reached in 1865 followed by a fairly consistent decline. Hopes for an upturn in prices and a new discovery in the Bunmahon area faded through the 1870s and the last few tons were sold from Tankardstown in 1879. The engines were sold for scrap and all that remains of the mining operation that once employed 1200 people are the gaunt ruins of the engine houses on the cliffs at Tankardstown. Entire extended families moved away, mainly to America where some of them wound up working at the Copper Mountain in Butte, Montana. Most had nobody left home to write so all contact with them was lost. A few did come back to participate in an attempt revival in 1906, but that was short lived and they left again.

If you click here you can watch a short excerpt from the film "Down the Ladder" which is shown in our Copper Coast Centre. 

Virtual tours of Tankardstown mine site:

Copper Coast Geopark have completed a 3D laser scan and a panoramic survey of the engine house site and of underground tunnels at the 19th century mine site at Tankardstown in Co. Waterford. The survey, commissioned by the Atlanterra project, was carried out by Deri Jones of DJA and his team supported by Sean Corcoran and Brian Fleming of the Copper Coast. Two videos of both the conserved surface engine house and the underground level allow visitors to enjoy a virtual tour of the site. The second video includes a 3 dimensional representation of the entire underground workings constructed from historical mine drawings maintained at the Geological Survey of Ireland and a flythrough of a level not currently flooded. The spectacular secondary copper mineralisation is not to be seen anywhere else.

Sites to visit 
While visiting the Copper Coast, you can see some of the witnesses of this activity at different locations:
Stage cove / Knockmahon (Bunmahon)
There you can see the remnants of the :
  • walls of the copper storage yard, with blocks of white quartz containing green copper;
  • adits (horizontal tunnels) in the cliffs, alignment giving clue to the shape of the ore vein;
  • shafts (vertical tunnels) on the headland,copper stains on the slipway;
  • facilities for shipping the ore out to Swansea, Wales; click here for a link to a video representation of the Hafod Copper Works where the ore from the Copper Coast was processed.
  • cobbled floor that may have formed part of the quay side;
  • mineral tramway route, connecting Tankardstown to the primary ore dressing floors at Bunmahon.
Tankardstown Engine Houses (1km east of Bunmahon)
Tankardstown Cornish Engine Houses are some of the main characteristic buildings linked to the copper mining industry. They were built around 1860 to pump water out of the copper mines and to wind ore up from the depths. The developments undertaken with InterReg IIIB funding related to these ruins include:
Excavation works
Excavation works were led during summer 2004 by the Department of Archeology - University College Cork, under the overall supervision of Dr. Colin Rynne. 
Conservation works
Conservation works on the different buildings are ongoing. The tender was awarded to Cornerstone Ltd.
Interpretative Signs
A mining trail was built on site with interpretation boards explaining the use of the different buildings (with reconstruction drawings) during the mining activity in the 19th Century and the use of copper in our everyday life.
Little is known about the miners who worked here in the 19th Century. Most of them left the area with their entire families to work in the copper mines of Michigan and Montana, USA.
Lists of Names of those associated with the Mines in Bunmahon

The following lists have been compiled by our local historian, Des Cowman.

The original spelling of the names has been largely retained unless there was an obvious mistake. For instance the original spelling of what would now be
"O'Brien" has been retained "Brian". Likewise, the current O'Sullivans has been left without their prefix.

The listings are available as Excel spreadsheets or Adobe PDF files for download. If you encounter any problem while downloading the files, please
be patient and try again or press the "Refresh" button on your toolbar.

The children of Bunmahon Miners:

The following list is a record of the children born to miners working in the Bunmahon mines between 1864 and 1881.
The list gives fathers, mothers and child's name, date of birth, address and comments.

Birth Registers:

The following list is a record of the children born to miners working in the Bunmahon mines between 1864 and 1881.
The list gives the child's name and his/her date of birth only.

Bunmahon Birth Registers, 1864 - 1881  .pdf format (389Kb)  Bunmahon Birth Registers 1864 - 1881, .xls format (127Kb)  

Marriage Registers:

The following is a record of the marriages which took place between 1845 and 1875. The Marriage Registers only give the name of the bride's or groom's father, plus the date of the marriage.

Bunmahon Marriage Registers, .pdf format (43Kb)  Bunmahon Marriage Registers, .xls format (24Kb)


Death Registry:

The following list is a record of the people who died in Bunmahon between 1864 and 1877.
The Death Registry gives the name of the person and the date on which he/she died.

Bunmahon Death Registry, PDF format (28Kb)   Bunmahon Death Registry, XLS format (20Kb)

Valuation records:

The following list is a record of the people who lived in Bunmahon between 1850 and 1874.
The list compiles information from 3 valuation records for Bunmahon; the primary one circa 1850, then the 1870-1871 and the 1873-1874.

Bunmahon Valuation Records, PDF format (81Kb)  Bunmahon Valuation Records, XLS format (35Kb)


If you think you might recognise one or more of your ancestors and you are looking for further information, please feel free to contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




The area was declared a European Geopark in 2001 and a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2004. This geologically diverse area contains records of Palaeozoic volcanism and the last ice age. more


The Copper Coast is a stretch of the southern coast of Ireland in County Waterford. It is named for the historic metal-mining industry, the legacies of which now constitute a tourist attraction. more

Walking Trails

Along with an audio tour around Annestown, we also have walking trail cards for the villages along the Copper Coast. The trail cards can be printed or stored for viewing on your phone. more

Website by: Déise Design
A European Geopark Located In Co. Waterford, Ireland.