From the dusty village of Arigna itself, a little further north, a winding lane leads a couple of kilometres upwards, past a smokeless fuel plant, to the Arigna Mining Experience. Perched high on a hilltop and commanding stunning views of Lough Allen and the surrounding countryside, this brilliantly designed and utterly enthralling museum is based around one of the last working pits in the area. The history of local coal mining is well documented in the reception area, but, once equipped with hard hat, it’s the forty-minute tours of the mine that are most informative and thought provoking. Led by ex-miners, these are rich in anecdote and thoroughly explore both the industry’s nature itself and the atrocious and exploitative working conditions the miners endured. The tour is packed with atmosphere: the tunnels are dark and foreboding, and the sound of dripping water and footsteps amplified by the acoustics. Especially astonishing was the ability of the miners to squeeze themselves into the tightest of seams in the quest for coal.
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