Cherishing our rocky coasts

Sir, – Rocky coasts represent a considerable part of Ireland’s coastline. They attract people to visit the coast: some come to admire its beauty during a cliff walk, others prefer rock fishing, and some enjoy exploring by going on sailing or kayaking trips.

A lot of people enjoy visiting little bays, coves and pocket beaches – little hidden cosy oases hosted by the ragged rocky coastline at the forefront of the Atlantic Ocean.

A lot of the coastal landscapes formed on rocky coasts are of the natural heritage significance and in a way more popular and definitely bring more revenue than some of the museums or built heritage. The Cliffs of Moher alone in Co Clare attract over one million visitors each year, therefore making a considerable contribution towards the local and regional economy. Other places of natural heritage significance include the Copper Coast, Co Waterford; the Old Head of Kinsale, Sheep’s Head and Mizen Head, Co Cork; Loop Head and the Bridges of Ross, Co Clare; Downpatrick Head, Co Mayo; and many others.

All of these spectacular landforms are produced by sea erosion – hence, we see how something commonly considered to be negative can actually increase the beauty of the place and substantially escalate revenues for the local economy!


From a practical coastal zone management point of view, rocky coasts represent a natural way of coastal protection – thus also saving considerable funds which would have been spent on artificial coastal protection measures.

Given the fact that most rocky coasts in Ireland are represented by comparatively tough rocks such as sandstone and limestone, which are resistant to erosion, Ireland as an island is likely to keep its present shape on the map for generations to come, irrespective of the increasing frequency of storms due to plausible climate change.

From a scientific point of view, cliffs, caves, sea stacks allow direct access to rock layers formed millions of years ago and in a way represent natural outdoor laboratories, allowing scientists to investigate and reconstruct the geological and environmental history of our planet.

If you wish to learn more about Ireland’s geology and geomorphology you may find interesting the Geocoast YouTube channel initiated by the Government of Ireland Infomar Programme and aimed at raising people’s awareness and appreciation of our coastal environments. – Yours, etc,



Coastal and

Marine Scientist,


Midleton, Co Cork.