Ireland’s Travel Secrets: Copper Coast, County Waterford

The Copper Coast, in County Waterford, is named after the historic metal-mining industry and is now a tourist attraction thanks to the geological history of the area from Palaeozoic volcanism to the last ice age.

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In 2001 the area was declared a European Geopark. In 2004 it was named a UNESCO Global Geopark. The Copper Coast stretches 10.5 miles from Kilfarrasy to Stradbally.

The region is known for its panoramic seascapes, cliffs, bays, and coves. In fact, the Copper Coast Road, the R675 stretching from Dungarvan to Tramore, is considered to be one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world. It’s also known for it’s beautiful, clean beaches such as Clonea and Bunmahon and the village of Bunmahon, Boatstrand, Dunhill, Annestown and Fenor. Tramore, the popular seaside resort, is the best known town along the Copper Coast, but it also has a wealth of “undiscovered” secluded coves and beaches.

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At Monksland Church, in Knockmahon, there is a visitor center dedicated to the geopark and its 460 million years of history. The geopark itself is an outdoor museum of geological records. The park explains how volcanoes, oceans, deserts and ice sheets all combined to create the rocks which provide the physical foundation of the natural and cultural landscapes of the area.

For those who want to explore the area’s mining center Bunmahon is the town to visit. This was the center of copper mining in the area during the 19th century. In fact, some of the Tankardstown Engine House is still standing near the village.

The Geological Garden, in Bunmahon, provides visitors with a glimpse into the geology of the Copper Coast. The Time Path in the garden will guide you through geological time with 28 slabs depicting the major steps in Earth history and evolution of life. There are also two ogham stones found nearby which are aligned to the summer solstice.

Westerly View, From Bunmahon, The Copper Coast, County Waterford, Ireland
Westerly View, From Bunmahon, The Copper Coast, County Waterford, Ireland

Other historic points of interest are the Gaulstown Dolmen and Dunhill Castle. The Gaulstown Dolmen consists of six upright stones forming a chamber with a capstone some five meters in length. The two portal stones stick out at the front and are at least two meters high. There are also a holy well, standing stones and promontory forts in the area.

Dunhill Castle was built by the la Poer family in the early 1200s. There is also some evidence of an earlier Celtic fort on the hilltop. The town’s name is derived from the Irish translation of the fort of the rock. While the silhouette of the castle is impressive, it comprises of only about half a 15th century tower with bits of outer walls dating to the early 13th century.

While you’re in the area you can take advantage of the beautiful countryside by taking a walk in the woods, on the shore or along country lanes. Whichever you choose you can dip into the geology, archaeology, the mining heritage, and the rich flora and fauna of the area. If you’re looking for inspiration, route maps are available from the visitor center. You can also download a podcast (here) that will guide you through the Annestown Heritage Trail.

The eight beaches in the area afford visitors the opportunity to avail of various activities including surfing or exploring the islands and caves via kayak. There’s also a great deal of good fishing to be found along this coast.

If water-based fun isn’t for you there’s always the Bog of Fenor which holds a wealth of regional flora and fauna. There’s also a mini-farm which is a big hit with children and the Ballymoat gardens.

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Forth Bridge Edinburgh awarded with the UNESCO World Heritage status

The Forth Bridge has become the sixth Scottish landmark to be awarded Unesco World Heritage Site status.
Forth Bridge

The decision was announced at a meeting in the German city of Bonn after the UN’s cultural committee spent more than a year considering its nomination.
World heritage status is given to sites of “outstanding universal value” with the aim of protecting them for future generations.
The distinctive red bridge has carried trains over the Forth since 1890.
Scotland’s other World Heritage Sites are New Lanark, St Kilda, the Old and New Towns in Edinburgh, Neolithic Orkney and the Antonine Wall.
The award puts it alongside the Pyramids of Egypt, the great Wall of China and the Sydney Opera House in terms of cultural significance.
The bridge, which spans the Firth of Forth between South Queensferry on the outskirts of Edinburgh and North Queensferry in Fife, was opened in 1890 after eight years of construction.

 

Designed by Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker, it measures 2,529m (1.5 miles), weighs 53,000 tonnes and was at the time the world’s longest multi-span cantilever bridge.

When it was constructed it was one of the most ambitious projects of its kind ever attempted, and at its peak, more than 4,500 men were employed building it.

The Unesco inspection report stated: “This enormous structure, with its distinctive industrial aesthetic and striking red colour, was conceived and built using advanced civil engineering design principles and construction methods.

“Innovative in design, materials and scale, the Forth Bridge is an extraordinary and impressive milestone in bridge design and construction during the period when railways came to dominate long-distance land travel.”

For 125 years it has been an icon of Victorian engineering excellence, a symbol of Scotland and even a favourite expression for a never-ending task.

Now the Forth Bridge is listed alongside the Pyramids of Egypt, the great Wall of China and the Sydney Opera House in terms of cultural significance.

The bid for World Heritage status was led by the Forth Bridges Forum, which was established by the Scottish government to promote the three Forth Bridges.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the bridge was one of the “industrial wonders of the world” and congratulated the team behind the bid.
She added: “The Forth Bridge is an outstanding example of Scotland’s built heritage.
“Its endurance is testament not only to the ingenuity of those who designed and built it but also to the generations of painters, engineers and maintenance crews who have looked after it through the years.”

The bridge is owned by Network Rail, whose infrastructure director, David Dickson, described it as “a prime example of civil engineering and an iconic structure, not only in Scotland but across the world.”
Mike Cantlay, chairman ofTourism agency VisitScotland said World Heritage Site status would lends “even greater aura and appeal to one of the planet’s most instantly recognisable landmarks”.

Whisky distilling
He added: “The timing is perfect as, in 2016, this country will celebrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design and you would be hard-pushed to find a better example of all three qualities anywhere in the world than in the Forth Bridge.”
UK Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch said: “Recognition as a World Heritage Site will draw more tourists to the area as well as making sure one of the UK’s great engineering feats stands for future generations.”
There are now more than 1,000 World Heritage Sites across the globe, in 161 countries.
Of these, 29 are British, including the Tower of London, the Giant’s Causeway and Stonehenge.
Scotland’s Food Secretary Richard Lochhead has suggested that Scotland’s traditional whisky distilling regions should also now seek World Heritage Site recognition.
It follows the announcement on Saturday that the French region of Champagne had been given the status.

 

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