Geological Survey Ireland has awarded Geoheritage grants to seven community-based projects around the country. The funds, valued at up to €10,000 each, are available under the Geoheritage Grant Scheme run by the Geoheritage Programme in Geological Survey Ireland. They support the development and publication of educational and outreach materials by local groups, established geotourism sites, aspiring geoparks and UNESCO Global Geoparks. The aim of the fund is to encourage the telling of the Irish geological story, improve the understanding of geoscience, and to engage with groups throughout the country.
Geology is part of the heritage of Ireland and is celebrated as part of who we are. Our tourism industry is influenced by the landscape and the underlying rocks, and the geological and geographical features give rise to our agriculture, food, and often our place names and traditions. Due to the broad diversity of geology in Ireland and the relative recentness of the shaping of the landscape, every townland has the potential for an interesting geoheritage story. Initially, the fund was only available to the three UNESCO Global Geoparks and aspiring geoparks but has been available to all groups since 2019 in order to promote geodiversity, geoheritage and geoscience education through wider community engagement.
The successful applications this year demonstrate the diversity of Irish geology, the role it plays in Irish heritage, and its value in local initiatives. The UNESCO Global Geoparks continue to celebrate their local geology, and this year, the Copper Coast UNESCO Global Geopark in Waterford will use a digitisation and assessment to present the threats to geopark geoheritage sites using novel geotechnical monitoring tools, while the aspiring geopark Joyce Country and Western Lakes will undertake a project to work towards an integration of the Western Way into the International Appalachian Trail with new information panels and signage among other promotional materials. Geology can be shown in urban, rural, and coastal settings, and projects this year from Caherconnell and Lisdoonvarna in Co. Clare, Dunlaoghaire Rathdown County Council, Slieveardagh, Co. Tipperary, and a historic graves project piloted in counties Waterford, Cork and Dublin will use the Geological Survey Ireland Geoheritage grants to bring their geological history to life for locals and visitors.
Koen Verbruggen, Director of Geological Survey Ireland, welcomed the announcement and commented "The Geological Survey has been working throughout the country since 1845 and this is one way to give back to communities, to foster good relationships, and to encourage people to work with us to use the data, maps and expertise to develop local tourism and educational resources. The projects this year show the breadth of ways geology and geoheritage can be used for tourism, education and local pride building on the work undertaken by local community projects who received similar funding in 2021. I am delighted the Geoheritage Grant Scheme had attracted so many applications this year and I look forward to the results of the community collaborations."
Full list of grant recipients:
|Copper Coast UNESCO Global Geopark||Co Waterford||Digitisation, Assessment and Presentation of Threats to Copper Coast Geopark Geoheritage using novel Geotechnical Monitoring Tools|
|Irish Iron Heritage Foundation CLG||Co Clare||As part of the International Furnace Festival in August an open-air museum will be established with permanent objects and information panels on the past extraction and smelting of local iron ore with special focus on the local siderite and its relation to the geology of the Burren. Guided tours will be provided.|
|Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council||Co Dublin|
Delivering the story of our Geoheritage through a popular book in both hard copy and digital version and guided walks.
The focus will be on the generation of county specific, highly graphic maps, infographics and imagery along with professionally scripted interpretive content to maximise impact of the communications in print, in person and online.
|Joyce Country and Western Lakes geopark.||Co Mayo/Galway||This project will develop a geotrail on the Mám Éan section of the Western Way in Conemara, Co Galway. The geological setting, in particular the Dalradian rock exposures over the Maumturk range will act as a focus point towards possible future integration of the Western Way in the International Appalachian Trail.|
|Lisdoonvarna Historical Society||Co Clare||Construction of a replica of the local geological stratigraphy providing a clear visual and tactile structure that demonstrates the main geological features of the Lisdoonvarna area. Highlighting the link between the original spring wells of Lisdoonvarna and local geology adding to local awareness of geoheritage understanding will promote the value to this aspect of the town, and its geotourism.|
|Slieveardagh Mining Group||Co Tipperary||To produce a map of the geoheritage of coal mining in Slieveardagh based on the geology and coal mining heritage of the area and a collection of stories from the mines told by miners. This map will be given to local schools, libraries and community groups and will enhance local ability to tell the story of The Slieveardagh Coalfield.|
|Historic Graves Project||Co Cork, Waterford & Dublin|
A Pilot Project to fit the built heritage of historic graveyards into their geoheritage context, identifying where possible, quarry locations matching different phases of building construction from the early medieval period onwards.
This is a collaboration with community-focussed geologists to delve into the geoheritage of our historic graveyards.