Example poetry

Geopark premier with unique online Poetry Map

The initiative was launched on UNESCO’s World Poetry Day, March 21

The newly renamed Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark became the world’s first cross-border Geopark in 2008. The Geopark, which is jointly managed by Fermanagh Omagh District Council and Cavan County Council, has now achieved another first with the launch of Ireland’s first Geopark. Map Poetry Geopark online.

Launched on UNESCO’s World Poetry Day, March 21, 2022, this digital project is funded by the Geological Survey of Ireland’s Geoheritage Fund. The Cavan Arts Office and the Town Hall and Ramor Theaters in County Cavan also helped to create the interactive Geopark Poetry Map, which includes on-screen text and audio poems read by professional actors.

Necessity really turned out to be the mother of invention for this project, as writer Cavan Bee Smith needed to find an alternative project when the early lockdown in 2020 prevented her from running poetry workshops in schools for Poetry Day Ireland that year. The project was born out of an idea and had the support of Cuilcagh Lakeland Engagement Officer Martina O’Neill and Cavan Arts Officer Catriona O’Reilly. The application to the Geological Survey Ireland Geoheritage Fund was successful and Padraig McIntyre, Venue Manager at Townhall and Ramor Theatres, found actors to voice the poems for the digital project.

The Geopark Poetry Map has commissioned new poems from established authors based on specific Geopark sites and inspired by their geoheritage. The commissioned work includes poetry by Belcoo-born Maria McManus and Fermanagh-based Séamas Mac Annaidh. Dara McAnulty, author of the award-winning Diary of a Young Naturalist, spent her early years near Geopark sites. Noel Monahan, author of seven books of poetry, lives in County Cavan near the Geopark sites. Anthony J. Quinn, best known for his crime novels, who was County Cavan Writer-in-Residence in 2018/2019 and spearheaded landscape writing initiatives during his tenure.

An open call for new and emerging poets to submit poems based on the geoheritage of Geopark sites has drawn responses not just from Cavan and Fermanagh, but nationally and internationally. The project included submissions from the Irish diaspora living in Singapore, France and England. Eight finalists had their contributions included.

Pandemic restrictions have limited outreach to schools as originally planned, but Florencecourt Primary School and Curravagh National School, Glangevlin, have hosted Geopark Poetry Map curator Bee Smith for poetry workshops in outdoors which resulted in the inclusion of some of their students’ work on the Geopark Poetry Map.

Councilor John Paul Feeley, Chair of the Transboundary Geopark Committee, said: “The Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark in West Cavan and West Fermanagh is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland. Steeped in natural, built and cultural heritage. A UNESCO Global Geopark seeks to protect and conserve this landscape, but also to create opportunities for sustainable development and develop the communities that live there. Living in this peaceful landscape is a blessing. I know her beauty can inspire, relax and uplift, that she inspires so much poetry is no surprise. During the latest Covid 19 pandemic, we have been challenged more than ever to find innovative ways to achieve this goal. This digital poetry map is a great example of one of the many innovations the Geopark has achieved through engagement with artists, schools, the wider community, and GSI. I congratulate all those who contributed to the realization”.

Martina O’Neill, in her role as Development Officer – Global Geopark Partnership and Engagement, worked with local poet and Geopark Ambassador, Bee Smith, who organized the project. Martina O’Neill says: “I’m really thrilled with the new Geopark Digital Poetry map and was very suitably impressed with the quality of the writing. It is extremely heartwarming to see how the landscapes and geographical heritage of our Geopark have been able to arouse so much emotion, inspiration and creativity. A special thank you to our Geopark Guide, Bee Smith, who initiated this project and has been a strong and loyal supporter of the Geopark and all it encompasses for many years now. We are very fortunate to work with our many Geopark Guides across the Geopark who enable us to bring the rich heritage and stories of the Geopark to life in many creative ways.

Clare Glanville, Senior Geologist, Geoheritage Programme, Geological Survey Ireland says: “I am delighted to see this project come to an end and be made available to so many people. The Geoheritage Grants Program aims to support communities, foster good relationships and encourage people to work with us to use our data, maps and expertise to develop local tourism and educational resources. This project ticked all of those boxes; engage with local communities and schools, develop geopark geotourism and raise awareness of the great depth and breadth of the physical landscape and geological processes around us, connecting people through geology and poetry to a feeling of belonging”.

The project was supported by Catriona O’Reilly, Cavan Arts Officer and her counterpart, Fermanagh Omagh District Council Arts Manager, Bryony May. Catriona O’Reilly says of the project: “This landscape, so rich in cultural history, is an appropriate focus for an interactive poetic map. From the writing of Cathal Buí Mac Ghiolla Gunna in the 1700s to the current writing of Bee Smith and Seamus Ó hUltacháin, this landscape has woven its poetic charm and now is the time to share the magic – the draíocht – with the world.”

You can read and listen to all the poems and watch the online recording of the launch event on Monday March 21 by visiting the following link on the Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark website cuilcaghlakelands.org

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