Copper Coast, Co. Waterford connections to Butte, Montana ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 40

Copper Mining was a major industry in Co. Waterford here in Ireland in the 19th century. It was based in the very scenic area around Bonmahon which is at the heart of what is now called the Copper Coast.

Every time I pass the main evidence of the mining works, which are located overlooking the sea at Tankardstown, my mind crosses the ocean to Butte, Montana. We know that many of the miners emigrated to Butte when the mines closed in Bonmahon. I often wonder how it was for those who settled in Butte and if many of their descendants have any real sense of the incredible beauty of the landscape in the area around Bonmahon.

Restored Copper Mines at Tankardstown, Co. Waterford
Restored Copper Mines at Tankardstown, Co. Waterford

Maybe, just maybe,  someone from Butte  whose ancestors came from Bonmahon will read this post and let me know how life turned out for their family thousands of miles from their home here in Co. Waterford.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

6 thoughts on “Copper Coast, Co. Waterford connections to Butte, Montana ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 40”

  1. Just read your post. I live in Butte but am not originally from here nor am of Irish ancestry. This weekend we attended the An Ri Ra festival here in Butte. Today I decided to write about the festival and Butte’s connection to Ireland in my blog, In my research I came across your blog. Hence, I hope you do not mind that I quote you and direct readers to your blog.
    Regards, Cindy

    1. Cindy, it’s lovely to hear from you and I really enjoyed reading your post. I didn’t know anything about the An Ri Ra Festival in Butte until now. It certainly sounds like the Irish have made their mark over there!

  2. Posting this hoping this site is still active~I am proudly the great grand-daughter of a Butte miner who (I believe) worked in this very mine. His name was John Deegan and he married Alice O’Hearn of Bunmahon. I have research that possibly indicates that John Deegan was from Tipperary Co. It broke my heart to research this family because their lives were very hard and too short. I know some of the circumstances were common for the time but regardless, I don’t make light of their suffering. John and Alice were married in 1882 in Marquette County Michigan where he worked in the copper mine. His new wife had just lost her dad in a mining accident 3 months prior. In approximately 1883/4 they (with a young daughter Mary Rosella Deegan) moved to Marysville Helena and eventually he was a miner at Bald Butte. During these years they had given birth to 7 babies but lost 3 in infancy. Approximately 1900 they relocated to Butte where sadly, both of them passed away 5 days apart. Alice Deegan passed on January 15, 1905 and John passed away January 20, 1905. Of their 4 surviving children, 2 were adult age while my grandmother, Alice (Deegan) O’Toole was 9 years old and she had a brother who was sent to Utah for school. My grandmother furthered her education in Helena at St. Vincent’s Academy. My grandmother lived to the age of 97 and carried the hurt of losing her parents at such a young age all those years. She and her husband, John O’Toole raised 5 children who were very successful in their lives, as was her brothers and sisters. When I look at these pics it makes me wonder how their lives were there. Who their ancestors were and how I would love to just sit and visit with them. I visited Ireland several years ago and am looking forward to another visit….sooner than later would do my heart good. Thank you for this page and the invitation for me to share my family. If anyone knows of any Deegan/O’Hearn families in Bunmahon or Tipperary, I would love to hear from you. Warmest wishes to all who read this! 🙂 Tara O’Toole Mattson

    1. Hi Tara,
      Many thanks for sharing your family connections to Bonmahon.
      I hope that readers will be able to help you with further information.
      What years do you think your ancestors were born and married here or do you know?
      I have quite an interest in family history and am always struck by the extent to which even the tiniest snippets of information about particular lives lived can be so significant.

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