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Beginnings G


Connemara is bounded on three sides by the Atlantic and encompasses a wide variety of natural and semi-natural habi- tats, reflecting its great geomorphologic and geological com- plexity. It also has diverse economic resources. Among the more unusual are extensive deposits of soapstone and veins of green marble and vivid white quartz. Te green marble was traded as far away as Lough Gur, Co. Limerick, and possibly to the Boyne Valley in Neolithic times. Te abundant marine and mineral resources allowed for a variety of settlement op- tions throughout the area.

Te southern portion is a low-lying, glacially scoured, boggy landscape containing hundreds of irregularly shaped lakes of different sizes, many containing numerous rock knob islets. Tis type of landscape is known as Cnoc and Lochàn (hill and small lake) terrain. Its coastline is broken up by sea inlets and many offshore islands. Te geology consists mainly of granite and extensive intrusions of basic rocks. Much of this


landscape has been drowned in post-glacial times over the last 10,000 years with rising sea levels and warmer, drier condi- tions.

North Connemara, by contrast, is dominated by the quartz- ite peaks of the Twelve Bens, which have been likened to the Alps in miniature, and the Maumturk Mountain ranges. Tese are divided by the scenic Inagh and Maam valleys, which cut in a north-south direction through the mountains. Gneisses and schists are the main rock types of the lowlands to the west.

Schists with a relatively high calcareous content (i.e. meta- morphosed limestone) form the bedrock of many of the more fertile valleys, which face the western and northern seaboard. Prehistoric settlement was concentrated in these relatively fertile and sheltered valleys.

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