The Copper Coast is located on the south east coast of Ireland, between Tramore and Dungarvan in County Waterford. The geopark gets its name from the 19th century copper mines that lie at its heart. It comprises some 25 kilometres of spectacular coastline consisting of scalloped beaches and coves buttressed and enclosed by rocky headlands.
Conservation, Education & Tourism
The geopark extends between Tramore in the east, towards Dungarvan in the west, and comprises six local communities, each with their own featured attractions ranging from mini farms to geological gardens. These communities, with the support of the Geological Survey of Ireland, were involved with the Geopark from its inception as they were looking for ways to develop sustainable geotourism in this rural area.
The Copper Coast is an outdoor geology museum with a geological heritage that reflects the variety of environments under which the area has evolved over the last 460 million years. Sedimentary and volcanic rocks define a cross-section through the core of an Ordovician age island arc volcanic system; closure of the Iapetus Ocean by the collision of two continents leading to the creation of Ireland – as part of a desert dissected by large rivers; and, finally, the effects of glaciation during the Ice Age. Cross-sections of these rocks are exposed along the spectacular cliffs and are interpreted for the public at various points. For a brief introduction to these rocks, a stroll around the Geological Garden in Bunmahon will prove instructive. Copper was mined extensively in the area during the 19th century. The Geopark’s name is derived from this activity, and the Copper Coast icon is derived from the conserved remains of a mine complex on a high point of the cliffs. Panels there explain how the mine worked. There is also a rich cultural heritage – Neolithic dolmens, Iron Age forts, pre-Christian inscribed stones, ruined medieval churches and a spectacular castle owned by one community group.