Category Archives: Munster Express 2015

Copper Coast Geopark encouraging engagement and learning in a hands-on, meaningful way

THE Copper Coast Geopark is a centre for formal and informal education, providing informative and enjoyable experiences which enhance the appreciation of the landscape and our culture. One of the fi rst activities of the Copper Coast, when the area achieved Global Geopark status, was to co-coordinate an eight week geology course with Dr. Bettie Higgs, from UCC and geologist Tina Keating.

The course was run for the local communities, to teach about the area’s unique geology and to explain why this small stretch of coastline achieved worldwide recognition. Understandin

Aerial photo of Dunhill Castle with Stella Maris students.
Aerial photo of Dunhill Castle with Stella Maris students.
RTEjr fi lming in Annestown for Kidspeak
RTEjr fi lming in Annestown for Kidspeak
Kayaking fi eldtrip with Tina Keating and Philip McCormack from Pure Adventure.
Kayaking fi eldtrip with Tina Keating and Philip McCormack from Pure Adventure.

g the signifi – cance and learning about the area from the ground up so to speak gives people a deeper appreciation of the area, why the landscape has formed in this way, the mineralisation which led to the copper and silver mines, even to the type of fl ora and fauna that inhabit the area.

Learning about your environment and what it has to offer, fosters a sense of pride in your place, it is seen as something worthwhile, valuable and worth preserving. As a result the Copper Coast Geopark has now a group of trained local volunteer guides leading geological, historical and ecological walks. Our education programme provides local geological expertise, education for primary, secondary, third level students and the general public, in addition to leading fi eldtrips to the numerous geosites in the area.

Our compact Geopark is steeped in geological, industrial and social history enabling us to facilitate a wide range of fi eld trips and activities for third level education under the following areas – geology, landscape, ecology, heritage and architecture.


At Primary level we focus on a fun, interactive, discovery learning style. Firsthand experience with natural phenomena plays a huge part when it comes to environment and preservation and when we encourage an interest in the environment and a sense of pride of place from an early age – “sense of place” and environmental preservation becomes second nature. As part of our National School Education Programme we take school children on fi eldtrips to the beaches and bog.

To help them understand the geology, ecology, habitats and environment, using various games and scavenger hunts to separate what is natural to the beach and what shouldn’t be there. Fun activities create a positive feeling towards the place and the children are learning without it being a drudge and who knows we might be inspiring our future Earth Scientists. For those unable to visit the Geopark, we bring the wonders of our planet Earth to schools along the South East, with fun presentations, rock, mineral and fossils samples, and hands-on workshops creating plate tectonic jigsaws, volcanoes, earth history charts and cave paintings.


Activities at Secondary school level utilise the Geopark as an outdoor laboratory, working with the curriculum and expanding on it, but are also fun! Our coastline is the perfect location for examining coastal processes for Geographical Investigation as part of the Leaving Certifi cate. Tina Keating, Copper Coast Geologist and Heritage Specialist, has spearheaded our Education Programme for the past seven years. As an educator Tina advocates the virtues of studying in a holistic, contextual way, bringing together typically disconnected subjects so that students can arrive at more meaningful and authentic understanding.

The emphasis is on integrating subjects, connecting skills and knowledge from multiple sources and experiences; applying skills and practices in various settings to create a truly authentic experiences because, in the world outside of the classroom, content is not stand-alone. Two such projects were undertaken with students from Stella Maris Secondary School, Tramore, Co Waterford in association with The Copper Coast Geopark. The first “Geology through Art” project, sought to fully integrate two subject areas,

Art and Science, which are typically perceived in education as being intrinsically different and separate. The aim of this project was to take a science subject and build an art exhibition around it thus creating a link between the two subjects, which would appear to differ so widely from each other but in fact share some commonalities. Both are extremely visual and imaginative subjects and the combination endeavoured to create and encourage a more explorative, imaginative and enthusiastic response to science education. The students produced works of art and craft inspired by the geology and landscape of the Copper Coast.

All works produced as part of this project were exhibited at the Geopark Centre during European Geopark Network Week. The centre was adorned with paintings, sketches, lino prints, photographs, batiks and ceramics. The fabulous coastline and rich heritage truly captured the imagination of the students and stretched it even further to include an adaptation of Lewis Carrol’s famous fantasy novel, however in our version Alice, instead of falling down a rabbit hole, fell down a mine shaft in Tankardstown. The handmade twelve foot papier – mache` model of Alice and various characters including White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts, Tweedledum and Tweedledee were a talking point for months afterwards.

For our second project “Archaeology Above & Below” the Copper Coast took to the skies for a bird’s eye view of our Geopark, not only for a new perspective of the present but also in the hope of catching a glimpse of our past. This award winning project combined various disciplines including science, art, geography, geology, history and maths, working with the 5th.year students from Stella Maris Secondary school the aim was to investigate a local cultural heritage site using a combination of KAP, (kite aerial photography), ground photography, sketches and measurements.

All of these activities including a historical lecture on site were part of the school’s visit of the medieval Dunhill Castle. The scientifi c aspect of archaeology helped students understand the reasoning and technology behind remote sensing and more importantly the experience of conducting a geophysical/archaeological survey. Applying skills and knowledge from multiple sources helped solve problems and aid research. Developing skills in seeing, viewing and visualizing greatly aided the reconstruction of the story from traces and residues, absences and presences.

The resulting A1 poster was exhibited during the “Archaeology Above & Below” seminar in Balla, Co. Mayo, last April. The Seminar and Conference was attended by archaeologists and geophysicists from around Europe and was opened by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. The emphasis was “Women in Science” and included inspiring talks from women working in the various sciences. The students were awarded a KAP kit by Dr. John Wells, chairman of the West Lothian Archaeological Trust, Scotland who commended them on an outstanding piece of work.


There was real excitement in Annestown in July this year where we again explored the dualities of art and nature, this time with a great group of children from the Copper Coast and RTE came to fi lm us! The crew spent the day fi lming for the popular RTE jr. Kidspeak series that runs throughout the year and presents short ‘snapshots’ of young people engaged in a huge variety of activities.

The children spent the morning with our geologist Tina, learning all about the unique geology of the Copper Coast and the wonderful creatures living in the rock pools. We then had great fun creating one of our signature mosaics – a fabulous giant starfi sh using all the natural materials of the beach, the different coloured rock types, shells and seaweed. There was also great fun learning to kayak along the Anne River with Philip McCormack from Pure Adventure.

Our education programmes explore and discover the wonders of our Geopark not only from the ground and air but now also from the sea. The Copper Coast teamed with Pure Adventure to create an exciting Kayaking Fieldtrip with a wonderful opportunity to view our fabulous coastline, its geology and wildlife from the seaward side and to explore our sea arches, caves and the rare columnar jointed rocks – our very own mini Giant’s Causeway. Presenting our environment from such different perspectives combined with enjoyable activities for all age groups, the Copper Coast Geopark as a centre for education can truly provide a multi levelled journey of discovery.

munster express

Copper Coast Geopark enters ‘Get Involved’ 2015


THE Munster Express has teamed up with the Copper Coast Geopark as part of the 2015 ‘Get Involved’ competition.

‘Get Involved’ is a sustainable communities initiative developed by 51 local newspapers throughout Ireland and is a way for local communities all over Ireland to work together to improve their own lives, create local jobs, and protect the environment.

In 2015, local newspapers with the support of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and Clann Credo will drive voluntary sustainability projects where citizens will collectively play a more pro-active, inclusive and coherent role in shaping the future of their local environs.

The Munster Express believes that the ongoing efforts of all involved with the Copper Coast Geopark perfectly encapsulate the aims and objectives of the ‘Get Involved’ project.

‘Get Involved’ brings clear benefits to the local economy and the local environment by transforming to a ‘low-carbon, resource-efficient, economic resilient’ society.

Last year’s projects illustrated just how enthusiastic and creative communities can be.

In 2014, The Munster Express teamed up with the Friends of St John’s River project.

This group of enthusiastic volunteers have transformed the area of St John’s River, Kilbarry and are continuing with their magnificent efforts.

The Friends of St John’s River group received an award for their efforts at a ceremony in Athlone earlier this year.

The Munster Express received a ‘Project Champion’ award in recognition of the newspaper’s coverage of the project. Limerick Community Grocery, a project developed in association with the Limerick Leader newspaper, won the overall top prize which included a bursary of €5,000. Second place, with a bursary of €1,000, went to Energy Communities Tipperary in association with the Nenagh Guardian newspaper.

Third place (€500 each) was shared between Transition Kerry, in association with The Kerryman newspaper and the Abbeyleix Bog Project (ABP), in association with the Laois Nationalist newspaper. In 2013, The Munster Express supported Tramore Tidy Towns as part of ‘Get Involved’, highlighting the group’s ongoing work.

This year there is €12,000 worth of bursaries available to winning projects. ‘Get Involved’ 2015, sets out to inspire and stimulate community collaboration through voluntary efforts and to foster ‘green’ and ‘social impact’ enterprises, to build local resilience and generate new and sustainable livelihoods.

The judging criteria will focus on the following eight areas. Energy: Community Co-ops in local energy. Through ‘Energy Efficiency’ building retrofits and producing ‘Renewable Fuels’ for local use in heat, transport and power. Food: Growing and processing local food produce for the needs of community through local community food co-ops.

Nature/Biodiversity: Projects that, enhance, restore and protect nature and ecosystems. Ecotourism: Projects that foster sustainable tourism and ‘eco-tourism’ in the locality. Water: Water sustainability and awareness of how critical this invaluable resource is to localities. Resource Efficiency:

Resource Efficiency with the aim of developing markets for recyclables in Ireland.

Sustainable Employment: Community Projects that innovate and stimulate local, sustainable enterprises and generate new livelihoods.

Community Impact: Community Impact Prize (additional prize for 2015)

The Clann Credo “Community Impact Prize” highlights how outstanding community-based projects meet local and community needs in an innovative and collaborative way.

The Munster Express will highlight the developments taking place along the Copper Coast Geopark as part of this year’s competition.

The Copper Coast Geopark was founded by local people whose goal is to create jobs through the development of sustainable tourism. The ultimate aim of the organisation is to spearhead sustainable tourism that develops and promotes the region, strengthens the local economy and improves the visitor experience.

The Copper Coast is a 90 square kilometre stretch of coastline between Tramore and Dungarvan and is the smallest Geopark in the world.

The area is characterised by rugged cliff-edged shorelines and unique geological formations. The Geopark’s Visitor Centre in Bonmahon features a geological and mining heritage exhibition, a gift shop and café. The area was awarded European Geopark status in 2001 and registered as Company Limited by Guarantee with charitable status in 2004.

Global Geopark status under the auspices of UNESCO was obtained in 2004. The Geopark is supported by: Waterford City and Council; Geological Survey of Ireland; University College Cork and; Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland.

The Copper Coast Geopark is a member of the Public Participation Network and represents the Environmental Pillar on the Planning & Corporate Strategic Policy Committee.

The Munster Express looks forward to highlighting the many varied activities which are taking place in this beautiful area of County Waterford. To find out more about the Copper Coast Geopark visit