The Last Ice Age in Westmeath

Tuesday 17 May at 8.15pm in the Sheraton Hotel

Talk by Dr Robert Meehan

Summary – The last ice age set in about 120,000 years ago and was at its peak by about 29,000 years ago. Such was the extent of ice – up to 1km – that Ireland would have seemed to be multiples of its size today, occupying space out as far as the end of the continental shelf. Robert Meehan’s studies have shown that only 107sq km of Ireland’s 85,000sq km land mass remained above the ice sheet that blanketed us. All of the ice was flowing and it scoured the landscape. The flat midland boglands were sculpted by the ice and there was a glacial lake where the peat bogs are now. The talk will focus on the Westmeath landscape and its Ice Age history, as well as examining how humans use and have used, and interact with, the landscape and its resources in Westmeath.

Simplified Geological Map of County Westmeath – taken from ‘The Geological Heritage of County Westmeath: an audit of County Geological Sites in County Westmeath 2019’ by
Robert Meehan, Ronan Hennessy, Matthew Parkes and Siobhán Power

Speaker – Robert Meehan is one of Ireland’s foremost authorities in applied Quaternary geology and the last Ice Age. Robert began mapping Quaternary sediments in 1993 on behalf of Geological Survey Ireland and was awarded a PhD in 1998 for his work on the genesis of Quaternary Sediments in northwest County Meath and adjacent areas (including much of Westmeath). Robert then mapped the subsoils across the entire landmass of Ireland as part of the EPA Soils and Subsoils Mapping project from 1998 to 2006. Since then, he has worked as a consultant geologist on a wide variety of projects and publications, bringing his unparalleled knowledge of Ireland’s Quaternary sediments and geomorphology to bear on a wide range of regional and national projects.

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