Marble Arch Caves , County Fermanagh
If your tour of Ireland takes you through the county of Fermanagh then this hidden gem is well worth considering.
Ireland Luxury Tours can build one into your itinerary....and you will not be disappointed.
The distinctive sandstone summit ridge of Cuilcagh Mountain dominates the countryside of Country Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. Cuilcagh was heavily glaciated during successive Ice Ages and has fine geomor-phology, or weathered erosion features, including impressive landslides and extensive boulder fields. The mountain has rugged, panoramic scenery that is popular with visiting hillwalkers and rock climbers. Cuilcagh is rich in globally and nationally rare habitats, ranging from ancient forest to mountain heath supporting internationally important flora and fauna. The mountain displays one of the best areas of active blanket bog in Europe and contains Northern Ireland's finest upland karst, or limestone, landscape.
The Cuilcagh blanket bog is of international scientific importance as a priority habitat under the European Union's Habitats Directive. Blanket bog is globally rare and is being destroyed around the world by damaging human activities. Approximately 25% of the world's active blanket bog is confined to the Atlantic seaboard of Ireland and Scotland so the Cuilcagh bog is clearly of world importance. The lower limestone slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain boast large cave systems including Marble Arch Caves, one of the most significant caves in Britain and Ireland. These caves were first explored in 1895 by the famous French cave scientist Edouard Mattel who lectured in Speleology at the Sor-bonne University in Paris. Fermanagh District Council developed Marble Arch Caves as a tourist cave in 1985 and they are now world-famous as one of Ireland's leading tourist attractions, having attracted one million visitors from more than 100 countries.
Cuilcagh Mountain Park opened in 1999 and is managed by Fermanagh District Council in conjunction with Marble Arch Caves. The Park protects this internationally important area of blanket bog and opens the landscape for sustainable tourism and environmental education. The Geopark offers a wide range of environmental education and field studies to schools, universities and adult groups.
It works closely with government agencies and wildlife charities to develop sustainable tourism in the region. In the late 1990's, Fermanagh co-operated with both the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland and the Geological Survey of Ireland to develop Landscapes From -Stone, a tourism initiative based on the superb diversity of the landscape and geology in the northern half of Ireland. Marble Arch Caves have long been recognized for their successful management approach to conservation, development, and education with tourism. These efforts were rewarded in 2001 when Marble Arch Caves and the Cuilcagh Mountain Park became the first UNESCO European Geopark in the United Kingdom.