Prospectors have discovered what they believe to be the biggest untapped gold mine in Britain or Ireland outside a small border village, it has been announced.
With the price of gold surging in the present economic uncertainties, the exploration company says the deposits could be worth as much as £570m (£450m).
Conroy Diamonds and Gold, the company behind the discovery, has issued a formal announcement to the London Stock Exchange that the area outside Clontibret, Co Monaghan, close to the Irish border, has more than one million ounces of gold.
Company chairman Professor Richard Conroy said: "There has never been a gold mine near this size in Ireland and the UK."
The declaration is expected to attract interest from major international players in the gold mining industry and raise hopes in the historically deprived border region of a modern-day gold rush.
The rising price of gold in recent years has already seen Scotland's Cononish mine, near the village of Tyndrum, reopen after having lain dormant for years.
Conroy Diamonds and Gold said the gold deposits in Co Monaghan, miles from the once conflict-ridden south Armagh, are at least four times the amount as in the Scottish mine.
The company is now starting a feasibility study for the economic viability of mining the gold which it says could begin within two to three years' time.
Although the grade of the gold in Co Monaghan is relatively low by world standards, the sheer size of the find and the surging prices of the precious metal mean it could still be hugely profitable for the company.