The Heritage Council
Short Interpretive Text
Medium Interpretive Text
Long Interpretive Text
At Rinevella Bay, Portach Bailte, lies an ancient submerged forest which is visible at low tide. A submerged forest is where the remains of a forest lie submerged beneath a body of water. This forest is one of a number of submerged scots pine forests in the estuary; some of which have been dated to Neolithic (4000-2500BC) period. These forests were covered by peat and estuarine clays in the late Iron Age (300AD) and provide paleo-environmental evidence that allows us to reconstruct these ancient landscapes. The Neolithic landscape along the Shannon estuary would have been highly attractive to prehistoric communities with many food sources in the mixed landscape of estuarine waters, woods and marches. Stray finds of stone tools, megalithic tombs and a Neolithic wetland settlement excavated on the upper Shannon estuary indicates that people have been living, foraging and eventually farming in this area for thousands of years.
The hedgerows at Loop Head are distinctive; there are few trees at Loop Head so the hedgerows are exposed to a lot of light. The open ditches outside the hedgerows also encourage tall marsh loving flora. Local artist Carmel Madigan has identified over 100 species in the Loop Head hedgerows. The flora landscape changes dramatically at Rinevella. In contrast, the salty shingle environment with thin soils at Rinevella provide a completely different habitat to the hedgerow flora. The salt loving flora at Rinevella includes sea aster, common scurvy grass, cow parsley and sea rock milkwort. The flora at Rinevella is exposed to the rigors of winter storms and changes from season to season, depending on weather.
Rinevella Beach, a sandy beach with stony shore is the closest point to County Kerry across the bay. It is a popular area for swimmers. Stone salmon weirs have recently been discovered in the area, indicating that this area has been a popular fishing area for millennia. This is an ideal fishing spot for flatfish and dogfish using lugworm and fish bait. The best time to fish this beach is at low water and the first three hours of the flooding tide. At low tide there are patches of lugworm all along the beach and the most productive areas are in the shelter of the rocky outcrops and sand banks.
There is a local myth that an earthquake around the fifth century submerged a village called Cill Stuifín in the bay. The legend is that this so called hidden city is inhabited by fairies and can be glimpsed every seven years but will bring bad luck to anyone who has the misfortune to see it.
Site Recommendations and Observations
It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided for this site in both directions
In addition it is also recommended to locate and provide a new parking area and viewing point overlooking the bay to allow visitors to enjoy the view even in bad weather from the comfort of their car.
At present it is not visually obvious where the submerged forest is, how to get to it and importantly what it is. If public access to the submerged forest site is to be encouraged as part of a side trail, then appropriate directions, map and tide times should form part of the site interpretation in the future.
It is recommended that cycle parking be considered at this site.
The following three statements apply to all site recommendations:
- ‘All proposals must comply with all planning, local authority and other statutory requirements.’
- ‘All proposals for development within, adjacent to or with the potential to affect a Natura 2000 site will be subject to an Appropriate Assessment Screening. To ensure that a Habitat Directive Assessment is carried out to assess the likely impacts on Natura 2000 sites in order to comply with Article 6(3) of the Habitat Directive and in accordance with the requirements of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011.’
- ‘All projects must be undertaken in accordance with the Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Points Remedial Works Guidelines, including the Ecological Method Statement.’
Sources of Information
1) Interview with Laura Foley
2) Interview with Martin McKeown
3) Interview with Carmel Madigan
4) Online Research
Other Research and Facts
People, Place & Time on Shannon Estuary- http://www.ucd.ie/archaeology/research/shannon_estuary/more_information.html
Seashore- Madigan, C., ‘Seasons, Species and Patterns of a North East Atlantic Shore’. 2014.