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Allihies strengthens links with US mining town

June 6th, 2024 7:00 AM

Allihies strengthens links with US mining town Image
The group from Butte during their visit to Beara last weekend.

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A GROUP from Butte, Montana is currently visiting Allihies as part of an ongoing initiative to further links between the two areas who both share a common ancestry.

In the 19th century, the Allihies copper mines employed over 1,500 people.

However, when the mines closed in the 1850s, many emigrated to Butte, Montana to work in the copper mines there, with the result that to this day Butte has one of the largest populations of Irish Americans in the USA, with many tracing their links to Beara.

The group, guests of the Allihies Copper Mine Museum, arrived in Beara last Sunday and enjoyed a full itinerary for their week in the area, including a social event at the mine museum, where the Butte group had the opportunity to meet the local community.

Tadgh O’Sullivan, chairperson of the Allihies Copper Mine Museum, said the visit was planned to develop educational and genealogy links between Butte and Beara, and further plans to twin Allihies with Butte.

‘A group of us from the museum travelled to Butte in 2022 to take part in the St Patrick’s Day parade and extended an invitation for people to visit us in Allihies,’ he said.

Among the visitors were two representatives of the Butte Silver Bow Public Archives which was established in 1981 to house documents and photographs relating to the history of the area.

During their visit to Beara, the group visited national schools in Cahermore and Castletownbere. Tadhg outlined how the two schools have weekly online link-ups with schools in Butte in a bid to educate youth on both sides of the Atlantic on the connections between the two areas.

‘We have had an educational link with Montana for some time, with so it was great that the schools here got to meet our visitors.

Tadhg said the group was also involved in discussions to set up a genealogy database for the Beara area.

‘It’s a big project but something that’s been talked about for a number of years, and would benefit the entire peninsula, practically every family here has some connection to Butte.’ Commenting on the success of the visit, Tadhg said it was extremely positive.

‘This visit served to further our cultural and heritage links with Butte, and we hope it will also encourage more from Butte to visit Beara.’

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