News

Allihies sinkhole prompts fears of more to come

October 26th, 2019 11:45 PM

By Southern Star Team

Paul O'Sullivan, whose land the mine shaft runs through, talking with Theo Dahlke at the sinkhole, and examining the maps of the mine shafts. (Photo: Anne Marie Cronin)

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BY JACKIE KEOGH

 

THE enormous sink hole that first appeared in Allihies last Friday week has been described as ‘highly dangerous’ and should not be approached because there could be further collapses over the next few days and weeks.

Tadhg O’Sullivan, of the Allihies Copper Mine Museum, confirmed: ‘This is the second sinkhole to appear in Allihies in the past few years.’ 

The previous one is in a field in nearby Kealogue, but it is securely fenced off, whereas the latest is perilously positioned at the side of a small rural road.

The situation emerged last Friday, when a piece of the fence was the first thing to collapse before part of the road gave way.

Cork County Council responded immediately and completely cordoned off the ring road. The local authority also issued a warning, advising people to stay well clear of the cave-in.

One local landowner, Paul O’Sullivan, confirmed to The Southern Star: ‘It is an old mine shaft that was covered over and, according to a mining mapping register it is 10m deep. But there is no telling how wide the opening at the surface could become.’

Although there are a couple of holiday homes located in that area, it is understood that no home, or person, is in any immediate danger, provided they give the sinkhole a wide berth.

Tadhg O’Sullivan said Cork County Council and officials from the exploration and mining division of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment have been liaising with the Copper Mine Museum to chart a way of dealing with the latest sinkhole.

He said: ‘A lot of underground work was carried out in the area during the height of the copper mining in Allihies throughout the 19th century and old maps and drawings are being checked to see what the extent of the works were in this particular area.’

Tadhg O’Sullivan also expressed the hope that a solution to the problem can be found quickly and safely for everyone concerned.

Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF), who is from the neighbouring village of Eyeries, expressed his concern, saying: ‘This is a small local road, but it is relatively busy, and there is a worry that if it could happen in one location it could, potentially, happen in other locations too.’

Speaking as a local farmer, Paul O’Sullivan said it was natural to have concerns. He said he had them too but he, like other farmers in the area, are more knowledgeable because they are so familiar with the maps of the mine shafts and the tunnels. 

‘When you are farming the area, you understand the danger,’ he said.

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