Ronan Conway: Gold Mining in Omagh

Wednesday 26th October 2016: Ronan Conway and Gavin Harris: Gold Mining in Omagh

Gold Mining in Omagh
[L – R] Ronan Conway,Probus President, Paul Gallagher and Gavin Harris

The topic was introduced by Mr Conway who provided an overview of gold production in Omagh by the mining company Galantas“.   The narrative was taken forward by his colleague, Mr Gavin Harris who traced he history of gold mining from ancient Egypt to modern times. Demand and scarcity has pushed the price today to £1,050 per ounce.  It is estimated that Northern Ireland has gold reserves worth over £5 billion.  Between 2007 and 2013 almost a tonne [984 kg] of gold was extracted from the mine at Cavanacaw, where production costs average £340 per ounce.  Sperrin gold is so fine grained that the rock in which it is found has to be crushed .   Extraction is done by “frothing”,  a process in which powdered ore is mixed with water and “detergent”;  air is then pumped in from below to make it froth.  The gold, along with small amounts of silver, lead and arsenic stick to the bubbles which are separated from the mix and concentrated for export to Canada for refining.   Waste rock is put back into the pits and the area landscaped and monitored in accordance with strict environmental controls.  The speakers were thanked by Mr Paddy McGowan who recalled many meetings between the Council and the Company to address concerns about the impact of the operation on the environment and local community before planning permission was granted.


Mr Brian Coll: My Life

Wednesday 19th October 2016: Brian Coll: “My Life”

Brian Coll
[L – R] Brian Coll with Probus President Paul Gallagher and Pat Chesters

A native of Omagh, Brian Coll was well known to many of those present as a lead singer from the show band era.  Mr Coll proved to be an excellent raconteur with many humorous anecdotes about growing up on “Gallas” [Gallows] Hill” and going to school in Omagh.   He first sang in public, very reluctantly, as a member of his school choir but came round to seeing it a away of making a living after he was slipped a ten bob note for singing from the back of a lorry at a fair in Fintona.  He recalled his first gig with the “Polka Dots” Show Band in 1960 and how in the decade which followed they played in Orange Halls and Parochial Halls all over the County, in days when nobody minded where you were from as long as you loved the music and liked to dance.  Later he formed his own band – “The Buckaroos” – and recounted amusing stories of playing in dance halls the length and breadth of Ireland.    Brian also shared his love of motor cycles and the friendship he enjoyed for many years with racing ace, Joey Dunlop.   Along the way Brian met and shared the stage with many of the great recording artists of the 60’s and 70’s – such as Jim Reeves, Slim Whitman, Charlie Pride and Dolly Parton.  Gently teased by by some old friends in the Club about his plans for retirement, Brian felt that he still had quit a few “Farewell Concerts” left in him.

Felim O’Neill: Treasures Beneath Our Feet

Wednesday, 12th October 2016: “Treasures Beneath Our Feet”

Felim O'Neill
Felim with his metal detector showing part of his extensive collection of “treasures” to Probus President , Paul Gallagher

For the past 30 years Club Member,Felim O’Neill has been exploring fields in Co Tyrone and Hertfordshire with his metal detector looking for treasures beneath his feet.  While working in London he was drawn to the mud banks along the Thames which lie exposed at low tide.   From his large collection he put on display a variety of objects which he had found over the years and used photographs to illustrate many others. The time line for his collection begins with fossilsfrom the Jurassic period followed by Neolithic flint arrow heads, stone axes, and pottery shards. Among items unearthed from the banks of the Thames were several clay pipes and fragments of wig curlers.    Iron Age brooches, Bronze Age swords, Medieval buckles, bells, weights and measures, testify to the breadth of his collection as do coins, musket balls, buttons and horse harness.   All these and many more were carefully catalogued and dated in ways that show Felim is meticulous in his research.  After answering many questions about his hobby, Felim was thanked for a fascinating talk by fellow Probus Member, Jim Alderdice

Mr Joe Keys: Cybercrime and Scams

Wednesday, 5th October 2016: Mr Keys: Cybercrime and Scams

Joe Keys
Joe Keys [left] with Probus President, Paul Gallagher

Mr Keys addressed this topic using a PSNI Power-point presentation which showed that on average 19 people are scammed every minute, and that the number falling victim to cybercrime is increasing.  After conducting a brief quiz to test members awareness of the issues he went on to describe the most common scams.  These are often initiated by a telephone call, text or e-mail which purports to come from someone you know and trust, for example your bank or a company with which you have recently done business.  The advice is to be wary of the unexpected and never to divulge information which could give an unscrupulous person access to your bank account.   In the business world many have been conned by bogus invoices.   Some scammers cast a wide net, sending out thousands of e-mails informing recipients that they have won a cash prize and the money will be transferred to their account as soon as details thereof have been provided.  Others phone with offers too good to be true, yet many fall for them.   Criminals often try to gain access to a house by posing as workmen.  Mr Keys explained that such should never be admitted until their identity had been checked by calling the “QUICK CHECK” freephone 0800 013 22 90.   His talk was followed by a lively question and answer session before a Vote of Thanks was expressed on behalf of the club by probian Jack McFarlane.