Businesses cut off in exclusion zone after 100m sinkhole appears overnight

National school evacuated and concerns remain as hole the length of a football pitch opens up in Monaghan

Aerial view shows Magheracloone Comunity Centre where the underground Gypsum mines have destroyed the juvenile pitch and the senior pitch along with structure damage to the community centre. Photograph: Pat Byrne

An exclusion zone has been established around disused mine shafts in Co Monaghan after a sinkhole the length of a football pitch opened up at a local GAA club on Sunday night.

The incident led to the precautionary evacuation of a nearby national school and experts are now monitoring the area near Carrickmacross amid concerns of further potential collapses.

The hole, described as being at least 100 metres in length with the appearance of an earthquake trench, was discovered at Magheracloone Mitchells GAA club on Monday morning.

Drumgossatt National School, Magheracloone, Carrickmacross, from where children were evacuated early Monday morning. Photograph: Pat Byrne

It damaged two pitches, the club building and car park, and led to the indefinite closure of the club due to safety concerns.


While the exact cause of the collapse is now under investigation, Monaghan County Council said it had occurred on land covering old disused underground mine shafts.

“Monitoring of the lands in the surrounding area is ongoing and an exclusion zone has been established,” it said.

“A geological team is due to arrive at the site tomorrow morning (Tuesday) to determine the scale of the subsidence and the risk of a recurring event in the area.”

Nobody was injured as a result of the subsidence, but the local Drumgossatt national school was evacuated as a precaution.

A portion of the main Carrickmacross to Kingscourt Road (R179) is due to remain closed over the next 48 hours, from Drumgossatt Crossroads to O’Rourkes Filling Station at Drummond. Diversions are in place.

Gyproc, an Irish plaster and plasterboard manufacturer that has operations in the area, released a statement confirming the subsidence.

The company said the area in which the subsidence occurred was Drumgossatt mine, which it owns but ceased operations at in 1989. The company says it continues to monitor and maintain the mine.

It said it was now “assessing the situation with the assistance of geological teams to ascertain both the reason for and the extent of the subsidence.

“We are liaising with local residents and authorities in the area to advise them of the incident and keep them updated.

“Our main priority is the safety of local residents, our employees and ensuring no significant environmental impact,” it said.

Gyproc currently operates a mine at Drummond, some 1.5km away from Drumgossatt.

Magheracloone GAA club chairman Francis Jones said access to the club was swiftly closed off after the discovery of the sink hole on Monday and security was put in place.

“It was a surprise to us all this morning,” he said. “It’s bad enough; we are just waiting to see what caused it.

“We are there a long time and it doesn’t look good for the club.”

However, other clubs have already been in contact with Magheracloone, which has up to 500 members, to offer alternative pitches for forthcoming games.

The executive is due to meet later on Monday to discuss the situation, but so far nobody knows how long their facilities might remain off-limits.

When a match took place at the ground on Sunday, there was no sign of any disturbance to the ground.

The local road closure and the uncertainty of the situation are understood to have caused some concern among businesses that have found themselves cut off.

Peter Doran, owner of Doran Motors Ltd, a three-acre business that employs 45 people and has been cut off from its customers, said there had been a lack of communication.

“We [had been] sealed off about four miles each side of the garage . . . we have about 100 to 150 people coming in every day and they can’t get into us,” he said.

“The guards are doing their job, don’t get me wrong, but I am not getting any communication.”

Mr Doran said there are several businesses cut off in what is an industrial area. They include four factories and a hotel.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Colm Carthy said the collapse was linked to an old network of mines that are no longer used.

“It cracked open and it also had significant damage to the local community centre,” he said.

“The road [around the collapse site] is going to be closed for a period of time while an assessment is carried out and it’s going to take time. We need to ensure a proper survey is carried out.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times