The Blundell Mining Company, 1851
In July 1851 the Blundell Mining Company was formed in an effort to revive the town of Edenderry and surrounding area after the Great Famine. Spearheaded by the fourth marquis of Downshire who owned some 14,000 acres around Edenderry the company was formed on the basis that local people would contribute to mining costs and were given the opportunity to become shareholders. In total over sixty locals bought shares and included MP O'Brien, Denis Fay and James Delaney owner of a hotel in the town. Lord Downshire acted as director of the company, while his land agent Thomas Richard Murray was vice chairman. His brother William Murray was secretary and John Atkin acted as solicitor for the company.
Mining was to be overseen by Edward Pickering, a Welsh mining expert who had overseen similar projects on Downshire’s other properties particularly at Banbridge, county Down. Before leaving Edenderry on the occasion of the meeting to form the company, Downshire invited those assembled to look at some of the iron ore which had already been extracted from the mines. He then laid out the hill for smelting and stamping and ordered where temporary houses were to be built for the miners.
However, this venture of mining proved unsuccessful. Thirty years later during the Land War (1881) the issue of the failed mining scheme was again raised and the debacle levelled at the marquis of Downshire, as it was claimed that locals, including Delaney and Fay had been swindled out of money. In later years the mines remained a taboo subject about which local people did not talk, as it was seen as a sort of embarrassment to all concerned. [CR]