The townland of Curraghalicky near Drinagh is most famous for the large lake near by but there is also an important historical site in this townland. A large slate quarry operated between 1841 and 1962. It is shown as disused in the OSI 20" map from about 1895 but was again in use after that date as seen in the Cork Examiner clipping form 1941. The quarry was substantial and 2 workers can be seen in the photo above on the floor of the quarry for scale. The other photo (taken from Drinagh People Facebook Group) shows the finished slates stacked ready for transport.
The following information is taken from "The Industrial Heretige Of County Cork", Issued by Cork County Council.
Slate is a fine grained metamorphic rock. In addition to being almost chemically inert, compact and non- porous, slate can readily be split into thin or thick sheets – properties that led to its widespread use as a roofing, flooring and cladding material.16 Irish slates, however, unlike their Welsh counterparts, were generally only of average quality for use as a roofing material but were, nonetheless, well-suited for heavier items such as flooring slabs and architectural pieces such as lintels and chimneys. In Cork nearly all of the large slate quarries were in operation in the west of the county, most notably at Benduff near Rosscarberry (c. 1830-1952) and at Curraghlicky (1841-1962), near Drinagh. Slate quarrying in the east of the county, as at Trabolgan in the nineteenth century, was much rarer. Underground quarrying for slate as practised on Valentia Island and in the Penrhyn slate quarries is recorded only at Connagh in west Cork. Elsewhere, as at Curraghlicky, slate was cut from the quarry face in blocks and cut to manageable sizes with mechanical saws, before being raised with wooden cranes from the bed of the quarry. Here craftsmen known as splitters, working in open sheds, split these into roofing slate sizes of 24 x 12in and 24 x 14 in sizes. These quarries also employed a blacksmith to make chisels for the tradesmen. However, as quarry operations continued it became harder to remove the enormous waste created by manufacturing roofing slates, and time was lost in removing waste material to allow operations to continue. The N71 between Leap and Rosscarberry cuts through the enormous spoil heaps from the Benduff quarry. The ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ Curraghlicky quarries came to rely on Free State government grants by the 1930s, by which time the Irish slate industry was experiencing a severe recession. In the 1920’s Benduff was supplying slates to Dublin’s housing schemes but the slate was subsequently deemed of unsuitable quality. By 1938 around 500 hundred County Cork slate quarry workers were out of work, while post-second world war competition from cheaper Welsh slate eventually brought about an end to the west Cork slate industry.1
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