The Story of Irish Gold

When we think of gold mining, the country of Ireland does not immediately spring to mind. However, the ancient inhabitants of the Emerald Isle had been mining gold thousands of years ago. So much so, that more bronze age gold hoards have been found in Ireland than anywhere else in Europe.

Two Thousand Year Old Broighter Gold Torc
The 1st Century B.C. Gold Torc from the Broighter Horde discovered in 1896 on the shores of Lough Foyle.

The legacy of gold mining is reflected in some old place names found throughout Ireland.

  • Slieve Anore (Mountain of the Gold), near Feakle, Co Clare
  • Tullynore (Little Hill of the Gold), Co Down
  • Coomanore (Hollow of the Gold), near Bantry, Co Cork
  • Glenanore (Glen of the Gold), Co Cork

Around 1800, there was even a gold rush of sorts in the Wicklow Mountains where it is estimated that up to ten thousand ounces of gold were panned from the rivers there. On your travels around Ireland  it is still possible to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Today there is just one working gold mine in Ireland, situated outside the town of Omagh, in County Tyrone. It is from this rare Irish gold that Celtic jewelry, including the Claddagh ring below, is still being made today.

Rare Irish Gold Claddagh ring
Claddagh ring cast in sterling silver and rare Irish gold.

When in Dublin, you should take some time to visit the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street where Ireland’s extraordinary collection of ancient Celtic gold jewelry and other artifacts are on permanent display. They are truly the treasures of Ireland and well worth seeing.