New Ireland Update 16 March 2021

16 March 2021

Tomorrow, March 17th, is Saint Patrick’s Day, and to help celebrate this special occasion we have selected 21 minerals from Ireland. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and the 17th of March marks the day on which he died, having lived between 385 and 461. It is understood Saint Patrick was born during the 5th Century during the Roman occupation of Britain. He was born into a wealthy Romano-British family, eventually becoming a priest and missionary, going-on to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated the world over, often marked by amazing parades, green Guinness and the presentation of shamrocks, the tiny three leaved plant used by Saint Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity.

Mineral specimens from Ireland fall principally into three groups. Those from its several massive base metal deposits; those occurring in operating limestone and granite quarries and thirdly, numerous one-off localities famous for their specific mineral species. Many moons ago, while studding mining engineering, I toured Ireland visiting such famous mines as Avoca, Tynagh and Tara and have since retained a great love for the country, its people and its beautiful and varied mineralogy.

By means of introducing some of today’s selection, let’s begin with the most recent discovery, that of the stunning Fluorites from Larkin’s Granite Quarry at Shannapheasteen in County Galway. This quarry had been sporadically worked for many years for its granite, without any trace of mineralisation. Following a blast in 2016, that area of the quarry floor was found strewn with blue, lavender, purple and lime green Fluorite crystals, and so the era of this now legendary location was born. Larkin’s Fluorite was an instant success amongst collectors because of its striking colours, colour combinations, morphology and various generations of octahedral and cubic Fluorite crystals. Today’s offering includes seven very different Larkin’s specimens, all of which are well worth a look.

Another small and one-off locality is the old Victorian lead mine at Sheshodonnell in County Clare. Worked only between 1862 and 1863, the cadmium rich Smithsonite left as waste material on the mine dumps was visited by Sir Arthur Russell in 1917. The dumps probably remained undisturbed until the early 1990’s when collectors re-discovered the beautiful, acidic lemon-yellow cadmium Smithsonite, two excellent and quite different specimens of which are available in this update.

In May 1979, the legendary dealer Richard Barstow embarked on a collecting tour of Ireland and it was during this expedition he famously found the stash of wonderfully crystalised Galena with Pyrite and ruby and honey blend Sphalerite at Mogul mine in County Tipperary. We have such a specimen here, together with one of Richard’s green stock labels. His green labels are relatively common, but it’s rather nice to have one accompanying this specimen, with which he is so closely associated.

There are lots of other fabulous Irish specimen to see including a great Azurite and Malachite from Tynagh mine in County Galway; Rock Crystal Quartz from the Crystal Cave Pocket at Dunquin in County Kerry and one specimen from Northern Ireland, a beautiful Natrolite from Magheramorne quarry in County Antrim.

Sit down, relax and pour yourself a suitable Saint Patrick’s Day tipple, be this Guinness, an Irish whiskey, an Irish coffee or simply an Irish soda, then enjoy our Irish selection. We feel sure you will love them, for their aesthetics, their histories and as treasured jewels from the beautiful Emerald Isle.


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Author: JH
Categories: Updates

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