Whelans Quarry Site Visit, Nov 2020

I had been trying to get access to this quarry for approximately 2 month before finally succeeding. I had to go through the auctioneer company whose name was on the gate, who passed me on to Roadstone, who, after verifying my insurance details and my intentions, passed me on to Brian, manager of the quarry. Brian is manager of Whelans plus a number of other quarries around Co Clare. I met him early on a Friday in November 2020 this morning at 8am to go into the quarry. It was drizzling and windy, therefore good weather in Co Clare terms.

We drove in and first of all, I had no idea it was such a big site. We drove up and wound around all the old buildings and plant machinery, and wound through heaps of rocks, and stopped over looking this, below. It’s hard to get a sense of the size and how your stomach lurches when you look down. According to Brian quarries like this, with such sheer rock faces without any graduated ledges, are no longer allowed to be mined this way. Too dangerous. beyond the rocky ledge in the foreground is almost a sheer drop down to deep water. Brian estimated that the water is at least twice as deep as the height of the lowest ledge at the bottom of the right cliff face. The only sense of scale is the signpost and life buoy to the left of the photos. They have cameras around the site and lots of signs to try to stop people coming in and swimming. 2 boys drowned in another local quarry last summer. Brian said there are approx 150 quarries like this one around the country. What to do with them is a big problem.

He showed me around the rest of the site and warned me that the buildings are unsafe, so not to try to climb on or access any of them, as they have not been reinforced or strengthened in any way for years. He headed off then leaving me to my own devices.

I spent an hour travelling around taking photos of the site. It is huge. There is a very interesting energy in the space. I did not feel it to be negative but definitely there is a charged atmosphere. I’m very interested in the lines and texture and scale of the structures. How the machinery slowly starts to take on a more disorganised, organic feel as it ages and disintegrates.

Then I drove up a bit further and took more photographs and made a drawing. I will make plans to come back here, which Brian has said is fine, and do more research.

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