Tetrapod footprint site in Kerry closes temporarily

Damage to boundaries at Valentia Island archaeological track shuts down for safety

The site of Ireland's 365 million-year-old tetrapod footprints on Valentia Island in Kerry has been temporarily closed to the public.

The tracks which are clearly visible to the eye are considered of vital importance as they demonstrate the transition of life from water to land.

On Friday, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said access to the free site has been closed for health and safety reasons.

Concerns arose on site following the discovery of damage to the gate and fence around a set of stone steps that members of the public use to access the rocky area beneath.


Fossilised track

“The site is deemed unsafe for public access and will require some remedial works/repairs to make it safe again,” it said.

This is expected to take up to two weeks to complete.

When discovered by geologists in the 1990s, the footprints were hailed as the earliest fossilised examples of a prehistoric creature ever found in Europe and possibly in the world.

A tetrapod is a pre-dinosaur creature about a metre in length which resembled a large, lizard-like salamander.

It is one of the earliest known vertebrate lifeforms that crawled out of the sea to live on the land about 400 million years ago. They died out about 320 million years ago.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times