Calling the Mining Folk in Montana ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 327

I’m hearing that Butte, Montana, the place to which so many of the miners of the Copper Coast here in Co. Waterford emigrated  in the late nineteenth century, is freezing and snow-bound.

This very recent photograph of the the cliffs across from the mine-works at Tankardstown is especially for you:

Tankardstown, Co. Waterford.
Tankardstown, Co. Waterford.

And I would also like to bring you a poem from Leanne O’Sullivan’s wonderful collection The Mining Road (2013) which was inspired by the disused copper mines near Allihies in Co. Cork ~ mines to which some of the Bonmahon miners went before heading for Butte.


Perhaps this is why

I keep returning –

the dark

always ascending

and the light

retreating softly

beyond the shaft.

At nightfall

the engine hauls

you back

in ones and twos,

up past

the darkened galleries,

the sunk


and wet quartz


and glittering among

the constellations –


your own name

called out,

your hands entering

the world again.

( from: Leanne O’Sullivan(2013) The Mining Works, Bloodaxe Books)

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.

8 thoughts on “Calling the Mining Folk in Montana ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 327”

  1. I can confirm that Butte is freezing and snow-bound around this time of the year. I’m in Malta now and not in Butte, Montana anymore but I lived there for roughly a year. Not so far away is Helena, where I lived and worked even longer. Minus 15 Fahrenheit in winter is no fun, but you get used to it over the years. Cars have engine block heaters installed and you keep them hooked up to an electric outlet over night.

  2. It sure has been a very cold spell that we’ve had in SW Montana for the past week with temps of -20 F at night and highs near zero during the day. Looks like a warm spell starts tomorrow to which we look forward. Makes one to look forward to spring, already.

    1. Hi Neil, great to hear from you. I’m surprised you can even write with those sorts of temperatures knocking around. -20 F is beyond contemplation!!!
      I hope that warm spell arrives to give you some respite.

  3. Hi Jean,
    Malta is relatively mild at the moment. We had a few days last week when the temperature dropped to 10° C and a lot of rain but our current temperature here is around 15° C at the moment. Not too bad for this time of the year. We’ll see how it is in January and February. January is usually the coldest and February the wettest month of the year.
    However, that is no comparison with Butte and the continental divide. However, driving to Great Falls means going through wide open terrain with the wind blowing. It’s not unusual to experience – with the wind chill factor considered – a temperature of minus 35°F and lots of snow. My wife is from California and not used to such extremes. I spent quite some time in tropical areas years before that and Montana was way too cold. Germany, Malta or Ireland are much more suitable for both of us.

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