The first few months of 2014 brought gale-force winds and record amounts of rain to Ireland and much of the UK. Homes were flooded and many lived without electricity for months. These recent storms reached the southwestern Atlantic coast of Ireland and have shifted sands, moved boulders and changed the face of the coastline. It is thanks to this freak weather that many never-before-seen features have been uncovered in the area, including the remains of this petrified prehistoric forest at Reenroe, Ballinskelligs.
Situated in the Skellig Kerry region and part of the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve, this newly-found forest is estimated to be around 4000 years old. Dotted along the sands of Rinroe beach, the fossilised pine and oak trees are testament to a coastline that extended far into the sea in a period when sea levels were much lower. During this time much of Ireland’s woodlands were being cleared for farming but in marginal areas around its coast, forests still stood. “Seeing these broken, weathered and well preserved stumps is a humbling experience”, explains Vincent Hyland, local photographer and artist, whose pictures are presented below. “Nature will determine just how long we will be able to see them for.”
As summer approaches, and the sea return to normal, the sand will once again start to cover the trees and perhaps bury them for another 4000 years. If you can’t make it to Ballinskelligs to see these fascinating fragments of the time before man, enjoy these photographs of this beautiful and potentially short-lived phenomenon.