Our Heritage in Rock

The varied landscapes of the Sliabh Liag peninsula can tell us much about Ireland’s geological history. Their story describes continents colliding; mountains being built, and destroyed; oceans opening and closing. This programme will introduce participants to the basic principles of geology and what it can tell us about the past, present, and future of our environment.

Situated where the International Appalachian Trail makes landfall in Europe, southwest Donegal is best known for its spectacular sea cliffs, but the region also contains a range of other features which illustrate various aspects of Ireland’s geological history. Here, the geology has in part influenced the overlying archaeological features dating from the Neolithic period, a rich history and folklore, and a variety of natural habitats. The geological connections with Scotland and North America are reflected in cultural connections with these regions, as well as with those further afield.

The course format comprises a series of talks or activities in the morning followed by guided walks each afternoon which will help to illustrate the themes discussed. The walks are not over-strenuous but a moderate level of fitness is required. Participants should bring walking shoes and rain gear.


  • The age of the Earth & geological time
  • Earth’s jigsaw: plate tectonics
  • Building blocks of Earth: rocks and minerals
  • Climate change through time: reading the rocks
  • People & the planet

This course was developed with the support of Geological Survey Ireland.

Course Director

Dr Sadhbh Baxter is a lecturer in Earth & Ocean Sciences at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She has been director of the Diplomas in Geology and Earth & Ocean Sciences, run under the auspices of the Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development in NUI Galway. She has authored two geological field guides and several research papers.