Background to  Transportation

By the years 1717 and 1718 organised mining had begun in earnest .   Coal was brought by cart to Leighlinbridge and then by barge to Waterford this was very expensive and tripled the price. The easiest route was along the Northern Dinin to where it meets the Nore and then to Kilkenny city , however the coal carters took a more difficult route over the Ridge, which reaches a height of 950ft . There is a gradual up hill slope and then a sharp incline down to Leighlinbridge. 44% of the total cost of running the mines in 1717 and 1718 (£478) was spent on the transportation of coal.

The tenants of Clogh , Gorteen and Coolbown , who worked in the mines did not transport the coal . The tenants who did not work in the colliers arranged coal transport.

The miners were probably fully occupied in the collieries. Due to the different length the coal had to be drawn to Leighinbridge from different mines the amount brought varied. For example the tenants in Cruttenclogh carried 520 barrels, where as, the tenants from Mayhora carried only129 barrels. 

To help the movement of coal it was decided to develop the roadways and canals . The extent of the coal field was vastly over-estimated .It was hoped that the canals would lessen the problems of transportation. The navigation  of the Barrow between Athy and St Mullins was completed in 1790. The Grand Canal linked Athy with Lowtown the following year, this was also joined to the  Barrow. Even though many changes and improvements were made they did not make the market better. Although the canal links were very good by 1809, only about  2,476 tons of coal and culm were carried towards Dublin. With the opening of canals it was hoped that the market would improve but it appears that the opposite happened. Importers were now moving in English and Welsh coal a lot more cheaply. By 1807 coal from Swansea was cheaper by 14 shillings a  ton than Castlecomer coal in Kilkenny. The miners in Castlecomer were not yet equipped to meet competition from free trade and better-developed British mines.


In 1778 Wandesfords were making a profit of  £10,000 per annum but profits had dropped £ 8000 to £2000 by 1799. In the years between 1800 and 1825 the earnings of the mines were only slightly greater than expenditure. Industry had it difficulties even in those days. The leasing system, wasn’t working so changes would have to be made.