I was surprised to hear that coal had been mined in Arigna from the 19th Century up until 1990, and this was only one of the many interesting things I learned at the Arigna Mining Experience on a miserable November day in 2010. I had driven by the sign for Arigna hundreds of times on my way to Sligo, with no idea what I was missing.
Located in Arigna on Kilronan Mountain in Co. Roscommon, the Experience opened in 2003. You can take a tour of the mine with one of the former miners and get a sense of what it was like to work in some of the narrowest coal seams in the world. A sense is all you will get as the shafts have been widened and heightened to accommodate us tourist types. The tour starts with a somewhat shaky introductory video, watched from the comfort of the cafe, and our guide appears to bring us into the mine. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and is thoroughly enjoyable and informative.
This picture shows miner Maurice Cullen cutting coal from the seam (Thanks to the Arigna Mining Experience for letting me use this in the book).
Even though it was such a gloomy day, we managed to get a nice shot of the view from the car park: