The closure of the coal mine at Castlecomer County Kilkenny means no work for men raised on the traditional skills of mining.
The Deerpark Colliery, two miles from Castlecomer in County Kilkenny closed on 31 January 1969, thereby ending 300 years of mining in Castlecomer. The mine was uneconomical to run, losing £2,000 per week. It had been propped up by the government since 1965, when the owners threatened to close.
After a lifetime in the mines 183 miners received one week’s notice and 142 of them are still out of work with uncertain employment prospects.
I fear the day that our redundancy payments will run out and I've only two more weeks to go now and after that we don’t know what we will do.
One man who worked in the mines for 46 years has not tried to get another job because he cannot physically work. His lungs are damaged from long term exposure to coal dust, known as pneumoconiosis. Mining is all he knows but he could see the pit closure was inevitable.
The youth are not inclined to go down and they're bloody well right, it's not a life for no one, it’s only a dog’s life.
There has been no attempt to retrain any of the miners. While younger men are finding work in new factories in the region, the new industries are not absorbing older men.
There is no place in Castlecomer now for the skills of men bred on a tradition that is 300 years old.
As miners move from redundancy payments to unemployment hand outs, Castlecomer is starting to feel the effect of the closure of the mines. While the employment situation is bleak, there are some signs of hope. Four factories will be taking on men within the month.
A 'Seven Days' report broadcast on 30 September 1969. The reporter is Bill O'Herlihy.