Counter-mapping in the Sperrins

V’cenza Cirefice and participants

Dalradian Gold are seeking planning permission for a huge gold mine and processing plant near Greencastle in the Sperrin Mountains. The communities resisting this project have faced criminalisation, intimidation and oppression, mirroring the legacies of conflict and colonialism that still have a material impact on the present. The expanding extractive frontier pushes into Europe, rebranding mining as essential for the green transition. Ireland  has emerged as a mining hotspot. Drawing on a long history of resistance, communities in the Sperrins have been building even stronger bonds of solidarity, locally and internationally, that speak to the world’s that are possible, despite extractivism. 

 

 

This intervention draws on the research of V’cenza Cirefice who has been engaging with communities in the Sperrin mountains, North of Ireland, to understand their resistance to extractivism. Using a methodology of activist engagement, photovoice and counter-mapping, this project is exploring the ways in which people relate to each other and the more-than-human world. These ways of being and seeing the world are often relational and deeply rooted in place, with the land and with each other. They represent ways of being that exist despite extractivism. 

Despite Extractivism on Crockanboy Hill

Credit: Gordon Dunn

The Greencastle People's Office

An occupation and site of resistance for over 1000 days.

“The people of the GPO take such time and care with all the visitors, explaining things and sharing their stories.” (participant)

The Green Road

The Green Road is an ancient pilgrimage route over the Sperrins.

Connecting the ancient province of Ulster, it was used by the Gaelic earls during their flight from Ulster in the 17th Century.

A legal battle to declare this a right of way is underway as the path runs through the proposed mine site. 

Local people have been enacting an embodied resistance

by walking the Green Road and in doing so drawing on the strength of their ancestors. 

Mass Rock and Virgin Mary Statue

A sacred space of worship and a reminder of colonial oppression

 

Crockanboy Road

"Public Notice

Assertion of rights of community

We, the people of the Sperrins, assert the right of the public to pass and re-pass along this road,

just as our forefathers did for generations before us,

and our descendants will continue to do for generations after us. 

People, nature and eco-systems are all part of our community including

the mountains, hills, rivers, streams, sacred spaces, bogs, trees and all living therein.

We, people and nature are interdependent on each other.

Our natural environment has the right to exist, thrive, regenerate and be protected. 

This road does not belong to DfI roads branch to give away to Dalradian or any other;

the people are custodians of this road for the children and future generations.

We assert our rights: to live in a healthy climate, to clean water, clean air, unpolluted land and sustainable farming.

We assert our rights to make decisions about projects which affect these rights. 

Furthermore, it is the duty of us all to protect and defend the rights of our community.

Asserted this day, 3rd April 2021 by the people of the Sperrins". 

Ní neart go cur le chéile 

“There is no strength without unity”

“Neart” is an Irish word that means more than just strength, it’s a bond that cannot be weakened or broken

Networks of solidarity extend from this mountain in County Tyrone, to grassroots groups and communities across Ireland,

and other territories across the world.

These have included; The Andes of Peru, highlands of Colombia, the foothills of the Troodos mountains in Cyprus, and Chiapas in Mexico,

Fennoscandia, Romania, Honduras, The Lakota Nation...to name a few.

Through resistance love, care, solidarity, friendship, learnings and strength have been built.

Learnings have flowed into this area from the majority world, where communities have been resisting oppression for hundreds of years. 

 

Bog Cotton

Is the sign of an active, living, moving, breathing bog.

Many participants have highlighted the dangers

of locating a mine and waste dump on top of this active landscape. 

It's often said, you cannot trust the bog...

Exploratory tunnel at Curraghinalt

Greencastle Village

Solidarity

To support the resistance in the Sperrins you can:

 

Follow the anti-mining groups online: Save Our Sperrins, Greencastle People’s Office, CAMIO, PARK, Love Screen Stop Mining.

 

Sign an objection letter and email it to this address planning@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

This can be done from anywhere in the world and there are already 40,000 objections to this project!

About V'cenza Cirefice

V’cenza is an Irish Research Council PhD researcher at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her research explores resistance to extractivism in the Sperrins through participatory visual methodologies. 

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