Helena Tarn Art

Volcanoes in Ireland?

When you think of Ireland, the first thing that springs to mind is certainly not volcanoes. Rolling green hills, yes. Wild, rugged cliff tops, yes. Wonderful traditional music and good craic, yes. Guinness, of course! But although Ireland is not necessarily known for its volcanoes, it certainly is a land that has experienced its fair share of volcanic activity.

View from Slieve Gullion

Of course, all of Ireland’s volcanoes are now extinct and certainly not a threat to those of us that live here. But as I have been exploring both Ireland (as my new home) and the theme of volcanoes (for my latest Laze painting collection), I was really excited to discover that some of Ireland’s wild and rich landscapes are in fact either extinct volcanoes, or the result of a volcanic eruption.

View of Malin Head
Wild Atlantic Way

There are a number of extinct volcanoes on the island of Ireland. Local to me is Slieve Gullion in County Armagh but also there is Croghan Hill in County Offaly, Mount Slemish in County Antrim, Lambay Island in Dublin and Loch Na Fooey in County Galway. And of course how can you forget that lil’ old UNESCO world heritage site – The Giant’s Causeway? In fact the whole of the north coast is a maze of ancient volcanic basalt rocks (such as pictured here in Malin Head) that have been battered and shaped into jagged pillars by the stormy waves of the Atlantic. It is wild and it’s easy to see why this dramatic looking area has been used for so many major filming locations.

Two paintings in my Laze collection focus on volcanic activity in Ireland; The Giant’s Causeway and Slieve Gullion. They will be available for preview later this week. Read on to learn about the sources of my inspiration!

The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is a living, real life, giant geology textbook. It is otherworldly and a spectacular maze of hexagons that needs to be seen to be believed. The rock formations were caused by a thick layer of molten basaltic lava flowing along the chalk beds of the coast, cooling and hardening and forming a pattern of hexagonal cracks. Over the years these have progressively formed into columns. Of course some prefer the legend that local giant Finn McCool built the Causeway in order to cross over to Scotland to fight the Scottish giant Benandonner. Unsurprisingly, the Causeway can get very busy with tourists especially at the weekend. However, we visited mid-week in the evening and almost had the place to ourselves!

Slieve Gullion

Close to my heart (and my postcode!) is Slieve Gullion. Slieve Gullion is an extinct volcano which dominates the surrounding landscape. Steeped in mysterious Irish legend with a rich archaeological heritage, this ancient volcano is built up of layers of igneous rock. Legend has it that an old hag transformed herself into a beautiful girl to entice the mythical giant Finn McCool (yep him again!) to retrieve the golden ring she had dropped in the lake on the top of the mountain. However, upon emerging from the lake, Finn was greeted by the hag and found that his hair had turned white – a weak old man, the crater lake having sapped his strength and vitality.

View of Slieve Gullion
Slieve Gullion

Slieve Gullion is covered in pine trees, gorse and purple heather and is a beautiful and popular hill walk which I would definitely recommend if you happen to be in the area and you fancy a walk in giants’ footsteps.

View from the top!
Covered in lush heather

Did you know that the island of Ireland had volcanic history or have you visited either of the places I mentioned here? I’d love to know what you thought! Please give me a comment below!

Until next time!

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