Vast reserves of gold discovered in Irish hills
Residents of a small village nestled in the hills of Ireland's County has become suddenly very rich after the discovery of huge gold reserve. Soaring prices of yellow metal has also boosted their happiness.
Not many people have heard of the village of Clontibret, tucked away amid the rolling hills of Ireland's County Monaghan.
Its biggest claim to fame - albeit from about 400 years ago - is that it was one of the few places to repel the forces of Elizabeth I during the conquest of Ireland in the 16th century.
But for the village population of just over 300, that is all about to change.
Yesterday a mining company announced that Clontibret is to become Ireland's Klondyke after a major gold find in the area that could be the largest anywhere in the British Isles.
Conroy Diamonds and Gold issued a formal announcement to the London Stock Exchange that an area just outside the village has more than 1m ounces of gold.
With precious metal prices soaring in these times of global economic instability, the exploration company estimated that the gold deposits could be worth up to £450m.
Professor Richard Conroy, the chairman of Conroy Diamonds and Gold, said: "There's never been a gold mine anywhere near this size in Ireland and the UK."
The declaration is expected to attract interest from major international players in the industry and raise hopes in the historically deprived border region of a modern-day gold rush that could restore its fortunes.
The rising price of gold in recent years - presently around £450 an ounce - has seen Scotland's Cononish mine, near the village of Tyndrum, reopen after having lain dormant for years.
Conroy Diamonds and Gold, which has launched a study into the economic viability of mining the gold, said the deposits in County Monaghan were at least four times the amount in the Scottish mine. "We know there is a lot of gold in the area, but we still have to ... determine how economic it is going to be to mine it," said the chairman. It has been estimated that further excavation could increase the existing indicated resources of 440,000 ounces and additional inferred resource of 590,000 ounces.
Although the grade of the gold in County Monaghan is low by world standards, the size of the find and the surging prices of the metal mean it could still be hugely profitable.