‘Remarkable’ landscape of one of Ireland’s most picturesque spots goes under spotlight

‘Remarkable’ landscape of one of Ireland’s most picturesque spots goes under spotlight

THE history and  geology of one of Ireland’s most picturesque landscapes will be the focus of a two-day event set to take place next month.

Experts, academics, and members of the public will all take part in the Geopark Academy 2024, which will explore the unique terrain of the Burren in Co. Clare.

Organised by the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, as part of European Geoparks Network Week, the event will delve into the history and ecology of the area as well as future tourism development plans for the region.

Mullaghmore in Burren, Co. Clare (Pic Dr Eamon Doyle)

“One of the primary objectives of The Geopark Academy is to further increase engagement between the public, researchers, geologists and members of academia on how the Burren was formed and has evolved over millions of years, and how this unique landscape presents future opportunities for the communities that live there,” Carol Gleeson, Manager of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, explained.

“The Burren is a remarkable limestone area,” she added.

“Its geology, flora, caves, archaeology, history and farming traditions set it apart as a place of great mystery and beauty.

“Arctic and Alpine flowers grow alongside Mediterranean species and there are over 2,700 recorded monuments, some dating back over 6,000 years.”

Expert talks will be on offer at the event, alongside field trips to some of the most significant built heritage sites within the area, which boasts limestone pavements and curious rock formations that stretch across northern county Clare.

“By hosting the Geopark Academy, we hope to create a greater sense of awareness and appreciation of the geology and history of one of Ireland’s most unique landscapes and how it is generating opportunities for tourism development in the region,” Ms Gleeson added.

Fanore Beach in the Burren, Co. Clare (Pic: AirSwing Media)

Dr Eamon Doyle, a geologist with the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark describes the Geopark Academy as a “multi-disciplinary event connecting research and the local community”.

“This event will examine and promote the ancient geological history of the Geopark, and its evolution through time from its formation through the retreat of the ice sheets some 12,000 years ago to the vibrant region we know of today,” he explained.

Dr Doyle claims the underlying geology of the Burren holds many fascinating clues to conditions on earth more than 300 million years ago.

“The oldest rocks visible on the Burren’s surface were formed during the Carboniferous period, approximately 330 million years ago,” he said.

“These limestone rocks formed in shallow, warm, tropical seas 10 degrees south of the equator.

“More recently, the last ice Age has sculpted those rocks and largely given the Burren its current shape. Research is active and scientists and students come from all over the world to see what we have here.

“The Academy will hear from some of those who have invested significant time and resources examining this intriguing landscape.”

The Geopark Academy 2024 runs from May 25-26 at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan.