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Beara men who died in Colorado mines honoured in the US

October 2nd, 2023 8:00 AM

By Helen Riddell

Beara men who died in Colorado mines honoured in the US Image
The memorial, in Leadville, Colorado, honouring 1,000 men from the Beara Peninsula who lie there in unmarked graves.

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A MEMORIAL to honour more than 1,000 men from the Beara Peninsula who lie in unmarked graves in Colorado has been unveiled in the United States.

The memorial in Leadville, Colorado was unveiled last week at Leadville’s Evergreen Cemetery by the Irish ambassador to the US, Geraldine Byrne Nason.  Also in attendance were a delegation from the Allihies Copper Mine Museum: Tadhg O’Sullivan, Tara Hanley, and Niall O’Sullivan.  

 Allihies has long had strong links with Butte Montana, with many Beara men emigrating there to seek work when the copper mines in Allihies closed. However, it was only in the last 10 years that it was discovered that many first went to Leadville to work in the area’s silver mines. Leadville is over 10,000ft above sea level, which led to gruelling working conditions for miners, resulting in high death rates.  The average age of many of the Beara men who died there was only 23.  

The initiative to memorialise the men was instigated by Irish American historian Professor Jim Walsh from the University of Colorado, who estimated that in the 1800s, two out of every five people living in Leadville came from the Beara Peninsula.

Tadhg O’Sullivan, chair of the Allihies Museum outlined that the memorial has glass panels listing the names of the men who are buried in the cemetery and has an audio feature with each man’s name being spoken, with each of the names spoken recorded by people currently living in Allihies.  ‘For many of those buried in Leadville this will be the first time their names have been spoken out loud in decades,’ said Tadhg.   

He said the event was well attended and a fitting tribute to the men who died.  ‘It was a beautiful ceremony, everyone is remembered and that is what we always wanted.’  

A delegation from Leadville will travel to Allihies in 2024 to further plans to twin the two towns. 

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