Just stand on the rugged coastline of the Copper Coast Geopark and listen; hear the waves crash into the cliffs and caves beneath your feet. Then turn towards the majestic Comeragh Mountains rising gently from the coast, and you will begin to realise why this extraordinary coastline, with its magnificent landscape, has been awarded the prestigious UNESCO recognised Global Geopark Status. This geologically diverse area contains records of ancient volcanism, mountain building and the last ice age and is regarded as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland.
The Copper Coast Geopark comprises 90 square kilometres and is loved for its unspoilt and rugged coastline with hidden coves and caves, golden beaches and pretty villages. All of which provide us with a window into the geological and social history of this part of Waterford which has a community full of passion and pride for their wonderful place. The Geopark is a remarkable area where geology, ecology, archaeology, agriculture, and mining heritage from the bustling copper mining industry during the 19th century all contribute to the character and culture of the region.
There is much to see and do in the Copper Coast Geopark where you can enjoy a wide range of activities for families, groups, culture enthusiasts, nature lovers and adventurers. Immerse yourself in the stories behind the beauty and remains of the past with welcoming and knowledgeable guides. The Geopark provides guided tours exploring the mining heritage and social history, medieval and ancient Ireland and seaweed foraging.
The Visitor Centre
We invite our visitors to begin their journey of discovery at the Copper Coast Global Geopark Visitor Centre which lies in the heart of the Geopark in the sleepy seaside village of Bunmahon where our friendly staff are ready with a big welcome. The Visitor Centre is a beautifully renovated Church of Ireland where the last service is thought to have taken place in 1937. It is home to the Geological and Mining Heritage Exhibition where visitors of all ages and abilities can learn how geology and the landscape have profoundly influenced our society.
There are award winning films and interactive models that bring to life the lives of the miners and the dangerous working conditions of the substantial copper mining industry that dominated the landscape during the 19th Century. The exhibition also showcases this geologically diverse area containing records of c. 460 million year old ocean floor volcanism, c. 370 million year old desert deposits, and ice carved landscapes and sediments deposited at the end of the last ice age. The exhibition is suitable for all ages and abilities with full disability access. There is also a working seismometer which records earthquakes in many parts of the world, the largest specimen of Malachite in Ireland and many beautiful and interesting specimens of copper minerals. We also provide guided tours of the mining heritage of the area for groups.
This beautiful building is full of character and is a great place to stop off for some rest and relaxation. If you love food like we do our café is the perfect place to treat yourself to decadent cakes or wholesome lunches using fresh ingredients made by award winning local artisan food producers. Our gift shop has a diverse range of local crafts and art showcasing some of Waterford’s best talents.
Every year we host a series of events to celebrate the geological and social heritage and community. Visit our website and social media pages for updates on these and other events:
• European Geoparks Week
• National Heritage Week
• Copper Coast Flower Show
• Christmas Market
The Visitor Centre is available for private hire and we are registered for Civil Ceremonies.
The area was declared a European Geopark in 2001 and a UNESCO supported Global Geopark in 2004. What sets the Copper Coast Geopark apart from other Global Geoparks is that it is a social enterprise managed by volunteers, whose vision is for a thriving and sustainable community in the Copper Coast. The social mission of the Copper Coast Geopark is to help facilitate employment and enterprise opportunities to generate sustainable economic development through tourism and by supporting local arts, crafts and food producers.
The Copper Coast Geopark was established by local community representatives and geology experts in response to the recession of the late 1990’s when the emigration of our young people, limited job prospects and reduced local services were causing problems for the rural communities. With the area having geological and social heritage of international significance combined with a stunning coastal landscape it was clear sustainable tourism development presented real opportunities for the area.
The Visitor Centre in Bunmahon is closed during the winter months and will re-open in Spring 2016. However, groups can be catered for by booking in advance, please contact us by telephone. If no-one answers, please leave a message we will get back to you.