Thanks to funding, primarily by the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in the Department of Rural & Community Development (part of Project Ireland 2040), a multi-partner partnership, and 10 years of heroic volunteer work, the Joyce Country and Western Lakes aspiring geopark project is underway. The €1.19 million project, led by Geological Survey Ireland, recently employed 3 full-time staff to work on the project. Michael Hegarty (Geopark Manager) and Dr Benjamin Thébaudeau (Geopark Geologist) will be based in Tourmakeady, while Amrine Dubois Gafar (Project Geologist) will be based in Geological Survey Ireland in Dublin. Dominic O'Morain (Tourism Officer, funded by Údarás na Gealtachta) joined the project team shortly after and is also based in Tourmakeady.
Left to right: Dr Benjamin Thébaudeau (Geopark Geologist), Dr Siobhán Power (Project Manager), Amrine Dubois Gafar (Project Geologist), Michael Hegarty (Geopark Manager) and Trish Walsh (Geo Enterprise) at their first meeting in Tourmakeady.
A strategy document has been produced for the proposed development.
The aim of the project is to develop a geopark in the area surrounding Joyce Country on the Galway-Mayo border, and Loughs Mask, Carra and Corrib, with the intention of applying for full UNESCO Global Geopark status. Geoparks are places of internationally important geology which are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and economic development. UNESCO Geopark status carries no additional legal status or planning restrictions to those already in place by local, national or EU legislation.
There are currently 3 UNESCO Global Geoparks on the island of Ireland; Copper Coast in Co. Waterford; Burren & Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare; and Marble Arch Caves in Co. Fermanagh and Co. Cavan. We hope that Joyce County & Western Lakes could achieve UNESCO status in the next few years if the work progresses as anticipated.
Throughout the project, there will be events and activities run by or in conjunction with the aspiring geopark and details will be posted on this page and on the Joyce Country & Western Lakes geopark website for those of you who want to be a part of this process. An Education Programme for all levels and all those interested is being developed.
Some of the geological features seen in the area:
Bencorragh pillow basalt
Dringeen eggbox pitting
Cornamona schist outcrop
Derryclare marble quarry
Finny pillow basalt
To see FAQs from various 'Joyce Country proposed UNESCO Global Geopark' public meetings, please click here and go to pages 61-72.