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Copper-ore deposits were first identified on the Beara in 1810. While mining quickly brought wealth to the Puxley family, who owned the land, it brought low wages and dangerous, unhealthy working conditions for the labour force, which at one time numbered 1300. Experienced Cornish miners were brought into the area, and the dramatic ruins of engine houses are reminiscent of Cornwall's coastal tin mines. As late as the 1930s, more than 30,000 tonnes of pure copper were exported annually, but by 1962 the last mine was closed.

The beautiful white strand of Ballydonegan beach, just southwest of the village, is largely made of crushed quartz washed out from the old mine workings.

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