Geological Survey Ireland announces funding awards for community geoheritage projects

Geological Survey Ireland has awarded Geoheritage grants to six community-based projects around the country. The funds, valued at €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 Marble Arch UNESCO Global Geopark in Fermanagh and Cavan will show the relationship between poetry and geology in an online Geopark poetry map, while the Copper Coast UNESCO Global Geopark in Waterford will make its existing information more accessible to the public. Geology can be shown in urban, rural, and coastal settings, and projects this year from Slieve League, Co Donegal, Belturbet, Co Cavan, Valentia Island, Co Kerry, and Cork city will use the Geological  Survey Ireland Geoheritage grants to bring their geological history to life of 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. 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. ”

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