Geopark Poetry Map Prompt 11

Today I want to highlight not so much a site, but a geological feature that characterises the MACGeopark region – glacial erratics – those huge boulders and pedestal rocks that we find, especially close to Cavan Burren Forest. But I also have to say it is not unusual for you to see one that, having been unearthed when building a new home, becomes a front garden feature roundabouts. Which makes sense since our earliest ancestors saw them as aesthetic objects made of rock. They use them as their palette for some of the earliest examples of human art on this island. In terms of geoheritage topics you cannot beat the beauty, mystery and mystique surrounding glacial erratics. Surely, some poet can sing a hymn of praise to these earthly wonders for our Geopark Poetry Map!

This is an example of a type of glacial erratic, whereby the huge boulder would have been
left behind as the ice melted and retreated at the end of the last glaciation. The fact that the
boulder is a different type of rock from the underlying bedrock gives rise to the name ‘erratic’. This type of erratic is known as a pedestal rock and these features are relatively rare landforms. However, there is a significantly high concentration of pedestal rocks within Cavan Burren Park where they are considered to be of international significance. In order fora pedestal rock to form, the erratic must be deposited directly on top of the limeston
bedrock. Other glacial erratics within the forest have no pedestal suggesting that they were
transported within a mass of boulder clay and therefore came to be deposited on top of the
boulder clay and not directly on to bedrock. It is thought that the deposition of the huge
sandstone boulder directly on top of limestone acted as a barrier to erosion, as limestone
erodes readily in weak acidic water such as rainwater. If this is the case, then the amount of
erosion that has taken place since the end of the last glaciation is easily estimated as the
height of the limestone pedestal is the height that all of the limestone would have been whenthe erratic was deposited.

Martina O’Neill, MACGeopark Development Officer, Partnership & Engagement

Within Cavan Burren Park there is also a rare example of what is called a ‘modified glacial erratic.’ Signposted as ‘The Boulder Tomb’ it is thought that cremated remains were deposited in the niche created by the modifications. There is also rock art at this location. A small spring can be found towards the bottom of the incline. I have to agree with local ceramic artist Jim Fee that this part of Cavan Burren Park has a special and very peaceful presence.

Enter the site and walk towards the huge boulder in themiddle. It is best to view this feature from below so walk downhill before stopping. This is another example of a huge glacial erratic. It displays evidence of alteration by man with rock art on the top surface. This is another example of a pedestal rock with the erratic beingsandstone and the underlying pedestal being limestone. In this instance the limestone has been carved and has been identified as a prototype tomb. If you look carefully at the sandstone you will see that the layers are contorted in places. This is probably due to some form of disturbance before it became lithified, when the wet layers of sand were disturbed causing the water to be released.

Martina O’Neill, MACGeopark Development Officer, Partnership & Engagement

All the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark sites are open to the public and now we are free to travel round the country. Northern Ireland has a bank holiday this weekend and the Republic will have one the first week of June. You may want to visit Cavan Burren Park and hug some of these glacial eratics to inspire some poems that will put them on our Geopark Poetry Map. Email GeoparkPoetryMap@gmail.com for submission guidelines. The closing date is 15th June 2021.

Glacial eratics in Cavan Burren Park

Geopark Poetry Map Prompts 1

Over the next two weeks I will be posting images on social media and short blog posts that may spark a geoheritage themed poem based on one of the sites dotted across the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark. While many submissions are coming from Fermanagh and Cavan residents, I have noted interest from outside of the Geopark region and Ireland. So to help poets who live outside the region or who have been unable to visit a site, I shall be posting photos as poem prompts over the next two weeks. The digital poetry map will chart sites across the Fermanagh and Cavan Geopark region with geoheritage themed poems inspired by sites around the Geopark.

The lifting of the inter-county only travel restriction in Ireland spurred the Geopark to extend the deadline for submissions until 15th June 2021. That will allow nearly a month for Irish residents to come and mosey around a site of their choice. All poets have a different process, but some do like to visit the site before they compose their poem. Others are content with images and research and memory. All the Geopark sites are outdoors and open to the public.

For the first Geopark Poetry Map Prompt I have chosen the Rock Art and megaliths of the Cavan Burren. When I have guided visitors around Cavan Burren Park I always make a point of reminding them that the megalith building and the art chipped into the glacial eratics with stone tools happened before Neolithic humans got around to inventing agriculture. Making, or art or burial chambers for loved ones, was a primal impulse, one stronger even than food security.

Unsure what the hay is geoheritage? Read my blog from last week to clarify that definition. https://sojourningsmith.blog/2021/05/11/what-is-geoheritage/

Let your imagination rock n roll! Full information on submission details and supporting research material about sites around #MACGeopark can be requested from GeoparkPoetryMap@gmail.com. The deadline for submissions is 15th June 2021.

Look out for memes posted on my Twitter @irishblessingst, Facebook Word Alchemy and beesmithdowra Instagram accounts with the hashtag #MACGeopark #PoetryMap.

Fractal

I slept long and late, secure in the fact that I do not need to be in the classroom before 1pm. Our house was as still as Sleeping Beauty’s castle until nearly 10am. Certain threads of personal cogitation have tangentially found their way into the late morning’s poetry practice.  Fractals, ancient rock art, cup and ring marks….Today’s Poetry Daily is in blank verse. Sorry there is no image. I just could not get an upload to play…and I must be away into the day! (I remedied this later on.)

Fractal

Consider nature, the fractals in trees,

the ever repeating pattern growing,

growing larger and larger and larger-

the swirling out of sunflower seedheads,

the upwards spiral staircase in pine cone,

the rippling of waves on an inward tide.

We imitate the lines and curves we see.

The  cup and ring marks inspire labyrinths,

ancient showing ancient a deeper way

of seeing how the world is being made.

Just as the whorls on the palms of our hands

are regular, but unique, patterns made,

which ancient ancestors laid in ochre

on cave walls -even the baby’s – handprints

waving at us from beyond time and grave.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

 

hand in cup and ring marks