How do you engage the public when you need to stay in your own 5km or 10 mile zone?
Technology, once again, is creating innovative ways to reach out and involve the public. In the case of the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark, COVID-19 restrictions have created conditions for an inventive outreach strategy by embracing a project that combines literature, landscape, and digital technology. On UNESCO World Poetry Day this 21 March, the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark is excited to announce the creation of a digital Geological Survey Ireland funded Geopark Poetry Map, inspired by the geoheritage sites across the Geopark, will be mapped poem by poem.
Martina O’Neill, Development Officer, Partnership and Engagement with the Global Geopark, was approached by Dowra based poet and Geopark Ambassador Bee Smith last autumn with an idea of creating a Geopark Poetry Map on their website. Bee Smith says, “The idea got very positive feedback from the Geopark office staff. I had been awarded an Artist Development award from Cavan County Council Arts Office, but because of lockdown had to abandon my original project. Catriona O’Reilly, Cavan County Arts Office, was very supportive of the idea and let me run with it. And it just grew and grew”. Smith will be curating the project with the support of the Cavan Arts Office.
Catriona O’Reilly comments, “The moment of inspiration for the Geopark Poetry Map was described by curator Bee Smith as a ‘lightbulb moment’. This landscape so rich in cultural history is a fitting home for an interactive poetic map. From Cathal Buí Mac Ghiolla Gunna writing in the 1700’s up to the present day writing of Bee Smith and Seamus O hÚltacháin this landscape has woven its poetic spell and the time is right to share the magic, the draíocht with the world”.
Poems Focussing On Individual Geopark Sites
The Geopark Officers and Bee Smith produced a funding proposal to Geological Survey Ireland’s Geoheritage Fund that was successful in late 2020. The project is commissioning five established poets and writers to create poems focussing on individual geopark sites across Fermanagh and Cavan, as well as seeking contributions from new and emerging poets and involving local schools.
The Geopark’s Poetry Map will include recordings of the poems by professional actors. This addition to the project is being made possible from support from Cavan’s Ramor Theatre and provides some employment for actors while theatres have been dark because of lockdown restrictions.
Martina O’Neill, Development Officer – Partnership and Engagement with the Global Geopark states, “Our Geopark contains some of the finest landscapes on the island of Ireland all which have been shaped by natural and cultural influences over thousands of years. We are truly delighted to work with our Geopark Ambassadors, like Bee, and our local schools and wider communities to help showcase our wonderful landscapes and bring their fascinating stories to life in unique and creative ways”.
The poems will celebrate Geoheritage of each site, which encompasses features of geology that have had a direct impact on these heritage sites. It combines the interaction and interplay between history, science, and humans in a living and continuously evolving landscape.
Excited To See The New Work Commissioned
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Arts Manager, Bryony May, said, “We are delighted to be involved with this project which celebrates both the arts and our beautiful landscape. In particular, we are excited to see the new work commissioned. We know that the pupils of primary schools will thoroughly enjoy visiting and writing about various sites in the Geopark, and we look forward to seeing their work on the map”.
The Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark has over seventy sites of significance spread over west Fermanagh and west Cavan. It celebrates twenty years as a European Global Geopark this year and in 2008 became the first cross-border Geopark in the world and being jointly managed by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Cavan County Council. In 2015 the Geopark was awarded UNESCO status when Global Geoparks became an official programme in UNESCO and consequently is equal to World Heritage Sites and Man and Biosphere Reserves.
Do you write poetry? Have you visited any of the Geopark sites?
Do you have a poem inspired by any of the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark sites? If you would like to submit a poem to appear on the Geopark’s Poetry Map, please contact Bee Smith at GeoparkPoetryMap@gmail.com to receive full guidelines.
Cuilcagh Boardwalk Pre-Booking System is a Summer Success
The car park pre-booking system, which launched in June of this year, has welcomed almost 5,000 bookings in three months.
Cuilcagh Boardwalk’s official car park has received almost 5,000 bookings within three months of launching its online booking system, theboardwalk.ie.
The booking system was created earlier this year with the aim of facilitating more effective crowd management and social distancing regulations, controlling numbers during the peak season and ensuring the safety of all staff and visitors.
With hopes of also fostering sustainable, green tourism at the popular Fermanagh landmark, the limited visitor numbers better enable the protection of the grounds and surrounding habitat by controlling the heavy footfall often experienced at the Instagram-worthy attraction. This was the original cause that led to the original construction of the boardwalk by UNESCO-endorsed Cuilcagh Lakeland Geopark, with the paths meandering through one of the largest blanket bogs in Northern Ireland.
The online bookings have come from all across the island of Ireland as people have enjoyed staycations, bank holidays and two unprecedented heatwaves this summer. While the initiative has received initial success, the bookings only represent a small percentage of walkers currently visiting the boardwalk each day and the mountain trail aims to see more visitors doing their part and pre-booking their car parking space in the months ahead.
Speaking on the success of the online system to date, local farmer, Cuilcagh landowner and car park operator, John Sheridan commented:
“This online system marked an important first step in the long-term redevelopment plans for Cuilcagh Boardwalk, and the number of online bookings to date indicates that we are successfully engaging with and encouraging walkers to be more environmentally conscious during their visit.
With that said, our work is not done. We want to encourage 100% visitors to pre-book their car parking space, so that we can safely control numbers on the boardwalk each day and reduce the impact of high-volume visitor traffic.”
Cuilcagh Boardwalk is also now part of the national Leave No Trace education programme, which focuses on developing a national ethic that protects both natural and cultural heritage by minimising the environmental and social impacts of tourism on some of the country’s most popular visitor attractions.
Cuilcagh Boardwalk’s online car park booking system comes as part of early development plans for the mountain trail and is determined to remain a sustainable, environmentally mindful area for all to enjoy.
Wild About the Workhouse Wildlife Walks in Enniskillen
Did you know there are eight species of bats in Northern Ireland or that swifts, on leaving their nest for the first time, are airborne for 2-3 years before they land for the first time!
Would you like to learn more about bats, swifts and local wildlife in Enniskillen?
If so, registration is now open to join a ‘Wild About the Workhouse’ guided walk taking place around Enniskillen on Friday 2 July and Friday 23 July 2021 at 8.30 pm.
These walks, organised by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, are part of the Enniskillen Workhouse Project in partnership with South West College with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Enniskillen Workhouse is currently home to swifts during the spring and summer months and bats potentially all year round.
Nesting swifts and bats are both protected species, therefore, as part of the restoration of the workhouse to create a business enterprise and heritage hub, the Council is protecting and enhancing the nesting and roosting spaces that are there by following specialist guidance on construction timings, building advice and appropriate mitigation.
The walks will be on footpaths and walkways around Enniskillen town at night taking in Enniskillen Castle and Fermanagh Lakeland Forum.
To find out more and book your place on a ‘Wild About the Workhouse’ guided walk, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis as numbers are restricted to 15 per walk.