The House on the Hill

There’s a derelict three-storey house towering over the road as one drives from Bonmahon Village towards the coast road to Tramore.  It’s a building that I’ve passed hundreds of times but have never investigated properly until recently as it has an eerie look about it.

It transpires that it was built in the 19th century for the manager of the copper mine in the area.

Mine Manager's House
Mine Manager’s House

It would seem from the plaque on the wall beneath the house that the most notable manager was a man called John Petherick


The fact that the house overlooked the area, now resembling wasteland, where the copper was concentrated by a small army of men, women and boys explains why the house was so tall.

The windows which once provided the view for the mine manager are either boarded up or have wooden frames, cracked glass, and flapping drawn curtains.

Viewing Point
Viewing Point

Going round to the rear of the house was like walking into a rusty past.

Rusty Brickwork
Rusty Brickwork
Water Pump

At first, I thought this was an old fireplace but on reflection, I’m not sure. Close by is an old water pump that had me wondering about the domestic arrangements in the big house back in the 19th century.

Even though it’s about two weeks since I was up at the house, the human stories it witnessed at both sides of those twelve windows continue to intrigue and haunt me.

The fact that I am writing this post on Thanksgiving Day in America is not lost on me. The Copper Coast and the mining works at Tankardstown always make me think of America and the many, many miners who moved to America, especially to Butte in Montana. I suspect that as I post this many of their descendants will be celebrating Thanksgiving but seeing this little corner of Ireland out of their eyes. Let us raise a glass together!

Old Mining Works at Tanksardstown on the Copper Coast, 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.

32 thoughts on “The House on the Hill”

  1. As we are about to start the avalanche of cooking for our Thanksgiving with in-laws in Hawaii this year, I love this calm peaceful but thoughtful perspective.

          1. I know I would. I’ve seen other photos of abandoned houses. The trouble is I want to save them all. Maybe I will come to Ireland and appoint myself Heritage in the highest order of being a restorer designate and adviser to governement until I die. How’s that. Ah! I am a dreamer lol

  2. I find this home interesting especially the story that goes with it. I love the old water pump as I have one that adorns our planter off the front entrance. Thanksgiving went really well at our home we celebrated it just with our daughter who lives with us. Our other children had their own plans. This year I didn’t do baking as my daughter works at a supermarket and brought pies home which was welcomed. I did make home-made cranberry sauce and my favorite jello…The weather was beautiful in the 50s. People will go out and Christmas shop as the stores open from 6pm and stay open all night into tomorrow..they call it “Black Friday” (hopefully sales will be good and keep them out of the red.)..

  3. Hi Jean
    What a wonderful old house…and what stories it could tell…i do love the idea of secrets kept and dreams dreamt:)::)

  4. They got about a bit those Cornish chaps – the good lady is from a long line of Geordie miners but going back a few generations, the family originates from Cornwall (sorry if I have missed some posts Jean, we have been hibernating on the narrowboat)

    1. Robin, that’s really interesting about the Cornish connection.
      Never apologise about missing posts! It’s an integral part of blogging, is it not?
      Hope you’re enjoying the hibernating.

  5. Curious about what the “fireplace” might have been, I looked up sewage disposal in rural Ireland in the 1800s. Since you indicated the bricks were “rusty” I wondered if it was part of the interior water closet system, emptying to the rear of the house (apparently somewhat common at the time, based on the medical journal article I found on water and earth closets and prevention of disease during the time period). I cannot determine clearly from the photograph, but it looks like some type of drainage to the side, leading away from the house? Also in use at the time in some rural villages was a bucket system (still actually used in parts of South Africa today) where the bucket would have to be removed from an opening in the wall of the toilet facility. I suppose the real test would be whether the location in the wall is in proximity to either of the chimneys.

        1. I’ll try not to keep you waiting long. There’s a door to the side anyway ~ and thus far I haven’t been round the very back as it’s very overgrown. I’ll take wider pics the next time to let you see the whole scene.

  6. What a lovely tribute to those who left their land to find a better future. I know the house, your photographs are beautiful. The window next to the water pump might be connected either to the kitchen, or to the boiler premises.

    1. Thanks! I was fortunate enough to meet some of the descendants of those who moved to Butte when they came back to see the Copper Coast. It was a lovely experience to be able to share.
      I’m honoured that you like the photographs!

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