MARBLE ARCH CAVES GEOPARK (Ireland)
Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, encompassing mountains, caves and bogs was the first Geopark in the world to cross an international border -between the U.K. and I.C. Eire
Conservation, Education & Tourism
Marble Arch Caves are among Europe’s finest showcaves and are located in Northern Ireland, close to the village of Florencecourt in County Fermanagh. The caves are widely regarded as a world-class natural attraction containing marvelous stream passages formed by three rivers that sink underground on the slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain. At Marble Arch Caves, guided cave tours allow visitors to explore this magnificent underworld, first by boat past soaring rocky walls along a subterranean river and, later on, walking past bewitching arrays of glistening stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones.Of course, it is not just about geology: the Geopark also contains a particularly high concentration of archaeological features, some dating as far back as Neolithic times. The stunning Burren Forest in west Cavan contains wonderful examples of prehistoric tombs, whilst the turbulent history of Ireland is reflected by the numerous 17th-century castles dotted across the landscape.
Today the underlying limestone and sandstone geology of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark has helped to create a patchwork of rare, natural habitats; some of the last remaining natural areas of damp ash woodland in Ireland are found along rivers that emerge from hidden caves. Limestone grasslands are present on the lower slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain, hosting a unique community of wild flowers, animals and insects. Blanket bog up to three metres thick covers large swathes of the landscape with a deep cloak of peat, a gigantic natural sponge covering the bedrock.
Some 200,000 people visit the Marble Arch Caves Geopark every year to enjoy the various activities on offer. Some of these include: guided tours of the Marble Arch Caves; hill walking on Cuilcagh Mountain; motor-touring routes of the region; or visiting the majestic viewpoint on top of the Cliffs of Magho overlooking the huge expanse of Lough Erne. Field study programmes attract thousands of schoolchildren, university students and enthusiastic adults who want to learn more about the fantastic natural and cultural heritage in this corner of Ireland.
The Global Geoparks Network is supported by UNESCO at the request of Member States