EPISODE 538 BARNEY DWAN 4 LEGEND OF THE LOST IRISH COW — REDISCOVERED
Sept. 7, 2022
“Alan, there is a legend about a Dead Cow and a Mine Adit ….”
(Sort of casual comments that Barney often made…fascinating comments.)
One night John Hogan and I debated the ‘Dead Cow Legend’ while consuming a pint of Guinness
in Kirwin’s rustic pub in Bunmahon. Should we excavate or ignore the legend.? Dr. John Stam
voted yes. And Barney Dwan led us to the site.
We discovered a large anomaly A short distance up the Mahon River
in a dry valley, I think called a ‘boreen’.
Barney told me in his casual offhand way as we slogged from station to station.
“Alan, there is an old story about a cow that was lost in this place. Seems there once was
a mine entrance on the slope and a cow wandered in the opening, got stuck and died
“Do you know the exact spot.”
“See the patch of Gorse on the east side of the valley. That’s where the farmer sealed up
the adit so no other cow would die.”
“How can you be sure?”
“The story of the lost cow has been told snd retold many times….long before I was born
it seems to have happened….around 1900.”
Picture was taken NE of Bunmahon, not too far from the Dead Cow Legend’s location
as I remember.
Now this venture was a bit of a stretch. Reaching into legends that may or may not be true was hardly
an activity for our very modern search for mineral laden anomalies. That night Dr. Stam
John Hogan and I decided to see if the legend told by Barney Dwan was true or not. If
true then we would have uncovered an adit that would give access to the old workings the
walls of which would be meaningful. If our actions were foolish then it was best to keep
quiet about the plan for a ‘dig”.
We hired one man who with pick, shovel, axe and wheelbarrow was told to clear the gorse
and see if there was any sign of a mine opening underneath. I am not sure if we told
Dr. Paterson back in Toronto. Think not at the beginning.
Well, the rest was surprising. The biggest surprise happened to the lone digger whose name
I have forgotten. He spent several days excavating. There was a lot of earth to be
moved once the gorse was gone.
None of us expected an explosion. Explosion! Yes. The ancient workings had filled with water
over the decades (160 years…1900 to 1960. The adit was a giant reservoir and when the
digger punctured the underground pool, tons of water whooshed out and he fled. He Did not
come for his money immediately.
We waited a couple of days for the mine to drain and then all four of us entered with flashlights.’Four of us!
Dr. Stam, JOhn Hogan, Alan Skeoch led by Barney Dwan as you can see in the picture below.
That’s Barney Dwan heading into the Dead Cow Adit. Seems he led the way..
Some other creature died here.
I am not sure about this picture. I think it was the dead cow adit in Ireland but
it could also be a mine adit in theYukon where the stillness of a century allowed perfect
crystals to form. Very delicate. Same colours as the Dead Cow Adit. So could be.
This is certainly the Dead Cow Adit. The walls were covered
in slime and odd colours. The adit was big enough for us to walk upright.
At some distance we should have found water filled shaft but our exploration ended
when we found the dead cow. Yes, there was a dead cow…hips must
have got wedged so she could not back out. And there she died. Or
maybe the legend was exaggerated and the old adit was used as a
grave for the cow who died of other problems. The kernel of the
legend turned out to be true which pleased all of our Irish employees
even the digger who showed ump for his money eventually.
The Dead Cow. Evidence that legends can be true.
John Hogan and Barney Dwan in the Dead Cow Adit.
Sept. 7, 2022