I set out on Saturday afternoon to the town of Silvermines (no prizes how that town got its name) in North Co. Tipperary. I had been researching old mines in Ireland lately and was hoping to find one to get some moody images of, perhaps some old rusting equipment and the likes.
After a drive of around an hour I arrived in the town and was immediately struck by how quiet and empty it felt. Mining activity has long ceased and by the looks of things the town was left to ebb away as employment soon became scarce. Local tourist maps dotted here and there seemed to provide directions for no-one.
The first record of mining in the area is from 1289. Mining resumed in the 17th century and continued intermittently until 1874. Opencast mining began in 1963 and was also worked underground from 1968 to 1982. The mine closed in September 1992 leaving behind slag heaps visible for miles. I walked up to the artificial lake left behind by the miners and found myself unable to find any beauty in the place. All I could see for miles around were crumbling houses, ground so polluted it was rusting orange and the local village so void of traffic.
I decided I’d put on my documentary photographers hat and do a series of images on the local area. The series would be broken up into three parts, the first being the abandoned farm buildings presumably by locals leaving the land to seek their fortune in the mines. The second would be the pollution left when the mining companies leave and the third would be the homes left to crumble in the aftermath.
So, for part 1…