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An uphill walk to a deadly beauty spot

Published September 20, 2006 | by: Huib Zegers

When you are travelling on the N11 near Loughlinstown or on the DART between Killiney and Shankhill and you look to the west, you'll see on the slope of the nearest hill an intriguing edifice. It's not a monolithic monument, as many people assume, nor is it a part of a medieval stronghold, as others tend to think. This landmark is a chimney, built in 1805, as part of the Ballycorus smelting works and is regarded as a fine example of the Irish industrial heritage.

Ballycorus chimney ©2006 - Huib Zegers When the Ballycorus smelting works were established there was sufficient ore found on the spot, supplemented by that taken from the company's mines at Glendalough, to keep a large staff of workmen constantly employed.

Some fifty years later the mine was all but exhausted and all ore had to be brought in by cart. The ore was smelted and converted into ingots, the silver separated and refined, and litharge, red lead and shot manufactured.

Unique structure
The chimney is about 80 feet high. It used to be the end of a flue nearly a mile in length, which was carried up the whole way from the Ballycorus Lead Works in the valley below. A winding flight of stone steps ascends for about two-thirds of the height of the structure.

The flue, which was remodelled and extended around 1850, at the cost of about 10,000, was a unique structure in Ireland. It is stated to have been one of the best constructed of its kind on the British isles.

Deadly fumes
The main reason for building the flue and chimney was to get rid of the poisonous fumes resulting from lead smelting. The deteriorating health of livestock was probably more important than the well-being of the Ballycorus employees who at times had to clean out the construction. "The deposits, chiefly in the form of sulphate of lead, are removed periodically by workmen with barrows, after the flue has been thoroughly ventilated by opening the various doors", wrote Weston St. John Joyce about a century ago.

Discription of walk to be published soon.

This document was created by Huib Zegers ; ©2006 -