"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong" Joseph Chilton Pearse, American author.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mountain Mine

My very first visit to the beautiful, rugged landscape of Allihies in the Beara Peninsula, West Cork was back in June 2001.  That was a family holiday with hubby, our two boys and Sandy, our much loved golden labrador, who sadly is no longer with us.

Each trip into the village with the sight of Mountain Mine towering high above us filled me with a sense of dread as I imagined the men and boys working deep within its mine shafts.  Apart from the obvious dangers associated with this perilous work the thought of being buried so deep underground terrified me beyond belief.

Nine years later, hubby and I returned to the same holiday home, the boys by now having moved out and Sandy well settled in doggy Heaven.   (Posts relating to this return visit can be viewed on my other blog, JOURNEYS THROUGH TIME under the label, "Allihies"). This time, walking beneath that massive structure didn't conjure up the same terror for me as it had back in 2001.  In fact, I was so intrigued by its amazing history that I wanted to encounter it at closer quarters, so, in October 2010, hubby and I climbed the steep pathway that would eventually lead us to Allihies' most imposing landmark, the Man Engine House.  So deeply affected was I by the terrible loss of life, especially the boy who drowned in Caminches Mine that some days later I wrote this little piece.

Mountain Mine

Across West Cork's Allihies landscape
Turquoise nuggets peer out from their scattered burial grounds
Shining remnants from a dark industrial past

High above the grazing sheep and florid dwellings
Like the sentry keeping guard
Stands majestic Mountain Mine
The Man Engine House
Its skeletal frame with brick chimney stack
Looms tall against the evening sky

Wild winds carry the warning cries of long-dead miners
Not to venture further
One foot across its chain linked fence
And you've arrived
Where certain death awaits
Within the gaping mouths
Of hungry shafts

Before I leave this well-walked ground
I pray God's light may shine
On those four men and boy-child
Who perished deep within Caminches Mine
With inward gesture
I place a lighted grave lamp upon their silent tomb

© Ann Brien 2013

Above images at Mountain Mine, Allihies taken by hubby and I in October 2010



  1. Your poem is evocative and compelling. I feel the language is somewhat formal, but then, it's kin to the ballad, and shares that sort of cadence.

    It would make a good folk song, there's several sections that could become a haunting chorus.

    Peace, Mari

  2. Hi Mari,

    Thank you for your lovely comment. Never for a moment would I have likened my poem to a ballad, I am honored that you should see it in that light. Perhaps now when I read it I will find that haunting chorus. Thank you again, Mari.

    Best Wishes,