In the 1860s there were 73 collieries in Ireland. Their output in 1854 was nearly 150,000 tons, less than one per cent of United Kingdom production, most of which was used near the pitheads for domestic fuel, lime-burning, malting and brickmaking. The mines in the Slieveardagh Hills between Kilkenny and Cashel, Co Tipperary, produce anthracite, that was worked on a small scale in the eighteenth century. In 1802 Sir Vere Hunt, a distinguished soldier, published plans for the construction at Glengoole of an industrial community to be called New Birmingham, but he lacked capital and his plans were not realised.
The Mining Co of Ireland, formed in 1824, established a mine at nearby Mardyke where they built a Cornish engine, whose engine house remains, and 25 terraced houses for their workers. By 1841 the company worked three mines employing 400 people, and new developments continued after the Famine of 1846-49. Distinctive brick ‘steeples’ 28 m high of which four remain were the chimneys of ventilation furnaces