NCHS Talk: Human activity and woodland history: new insights from recent research in the Burren and the Aran Islands with Professor Michael O’Connell

The North Clare Historical Society hosts its first lecture of the 2019 season on Monday 14th January

Venue: The Courthouse Gallery, Ennistymon
Time: 8pm. All are welcome

In this lecture by Professor Michael O’Connell the history of the flora of the Burren and the Aran Islands will be explored. The evidence is derived from fossil evidence and especially that obtained through the study of fossil pollen that is preserved in lakes and bogs. The story extends back 15,000 years, i.e. at the end of the last Ice Age. During the last Ice Age, the Burren and the Aran Islands were covered for considerable time by thick ice sheets with the result that no plant life could have survived.

Using data derived from investigating fossil-pollen records we can now reconstruct with considerable detail the sequence of spread of herbaceous and woody plants as temperatures rose. Later, with the arrival of humans and especially the first farmers in the Neolithic period (almost 6000 years ago), a fundamental change took place in that humans rather than natural forces now assumed prime importance in determining the vegetation and indeed the landscape generally. In outlining this long and intricate history, particular attention will be paid to the history of the characteristic Burren flora (especially the arctic/alpine and mediterranean elements), some aspects of which remain an enigma to this day.