Nestled in the enchanting beauty of Northern Ireland, Killeavy Castle Estate stands proudly at the heart of the awe-inspiring Mourne, Gullion, and Strangford area. With its rich history and breathtaking landscapes, this captivating region has recently achieved a remarkable milestone—the prestigious UNESCO Geopark status. This well-deserved recognition serves as a testament to the area's outstanding geological heritage and its commitment to conservation and sustainable development.
UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, bestows Geopark status upon areas of international geological significance. The Mourne, Gullion, and Strangford area has been deemed a true gem, deserving of this distinguished honour. Its unique geological features, diverse ecosystems, and rich cultural heritage have captured the attention of experts and visitors alike.
A Geopark refers to a cohesive geographical region, in this instance, extending from the Strangford waters to the Mourne Mountains and further to the Ring of Gullion. It is an area that is managed comprehensively with the aim of safeguarding its geological features, providing educational opportunities for both residents and visitors and fostering sustainable growth for local businesses. The Mourne Gullion Strangford UNESCO Global Geopark represents a collaborative effort to optimise the potential of our splendid landscape through sustainable tourism, biodiversity enhancements, geological education, and the responsible management of outdoor recreational activities.
The Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty—Mourne, Ring of Gullion, and Strangford Lough and Lecale—are encompassed by a diverse and stunning landscape. This landscape has been moulded over countless years by the collision of continents, the ebb and flow of oceans, dramatic volcanic events, and the harsh impacts of ice ages. As a result, it has given rise to a rich array of biodiversity and a thriving cultural environment, which will be celebrated by the new Geopark.
What sets this Geopark apart from others under the UNESCO Global Geoparks designation is its ability to narrate a remarkable 'Tale of Two Oceans' spanning 400 million years of geological history. The area's geology chronicles the closing of the ancient Iapetus Ocean, which brought together the two parts of the island of Ireland. It then follows the island's journey as it drifted alongside continents through tropical latitudes, ultimately witnessing the formation of the modern North Atlantic Ocean. Finally, the last ice age sculpted this ancient landscape into the breathtaking destination we behold today. No other UNESCO Global Geopark boasts such a diverse range of geological features or has the capacity to tell this captivating story.
The awarding of UNESCO Geopark status is a testament to the tireless efforts of the local community, stakeholders and council of this area. Their commitment to preserving the natural wonders and promoting sustainable tourism has been instrumental in achieving this exceptional recognition. Killeavy Castle Estate is proud to be a part of this remarkable journey, playing its part in safeguarding the region's outstanding geological and cultural assets.
The Ring of Gullion is a vast area of great beauty and is home to the Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Camlough Lake and of course, Killeavy Castle Estate which sits in the heart of the area. The mountain of Slieve Gullion is heather clad and rich with semi-wild habitats of heath, bog and woodland that add to the character, diversity and uniqueness of the area.
Not too far from the Estate, the Mourne Mountains, with their majestic peaks and sweeping vistas form a part of the Geopark. These ancient mountains, formed over millions of years, tell a captivating story of Earth's evolution and offer fantastic opportunities for exploration and hiking. The Mourne Wall, a testament to human engineering prowess, gracefully winds its way through the landscape, harmoniously blending with the rugged beauty that surrounds it.
Beyond the magnificent Mourne Mountains, the Geopark encompasses an array of natural wonders. Carlingford Lough, a stunning fjord-like inlet, boasts a vibrant marine ecosystem, while Strangford Lough is home to an extraordinary array of wildlife. These unique coastal landscapes, with their rich biodiversity and geological heritage, provide an idyllic setting for unforgettable adventures and unforgettable memories.
Visitors to the Mourne, Gullion, and Strangford Geopark can immerse themselves in the area's rich cultural heritage. From ancient burial sites and megalithic tombs to quaint villages steeped in history, the region is a living testament to the enduring spirit of its people. Killeavy Castle Estate, with its meticulously restored 19th-century castle, offers a glimpse into the past, inviting guests to experience the grandeur and elegance of a bygone era.
As a UNESCO Geopark, the Mourne, Gullion, and Strangford area is committed to promoting sustainable development. The local community and businesses work hand in hand to ensure that tourism leaves a positive impact on the environment and supports the well-being of the region's inhabitants. Killeavy Castle Estate shares this vision, operating in line with the UN’s 17 Sustainability Development Goals, staying true to its sustainable and ethical values and its commitment to making sustainable tourism a key industry in the North and South of Ireland.
The awarding of UNESCO Geopark status is a testament to the tireless efforts of the local community, stakeholders and council of this area. Their commitment to preserving the natural wonders and promoting sustainable tourism has been instrumental in achieving this exceptional recognition. It highlights the outstanding natural beauty, geological significance, and cultural richness that make this region truly remarkable.
Killeavy Castle Estate is proud to be a part of this remarkable journey, playing its part in safeguarding the region's outstanding geological and cultural assets and we invite visitors from near and far to experience the magic of this UNESCO Geopark and all it has to offer.