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Dr. John Feehan Visits Rosenallis National School

How old are the Sliabh Bloom mountains? What are they made of? Why do many of the rocks have a red colour? These were the questions that Dr. John Feehan of UCD and Birr, asked the children of S.N Rós Fhionnghlaise in Rosenallis on Friday (26th). He was there to tell children the answers to these questions when he gave an engaging presentation and then led a walk up to the Glenbarrow waterfall. Dr. Feehan, of course, is a renowned expert on the Sliabh Bloom and on their geology in particular.

He started with the question, what are the mountains made of? While limestone is quite prominent around Rosenallis, sandstone is the most common stone in the Sliabh Blooms. Dr. Feehan outlined to a young, fascinated audience how the River Barrow is a young river, but that the sandstone itself was formed in an ancient river 354 million years ago. Humans have only been on Earth for two million years! The children were also amazed to hear that the red colour common in Sliabh Blooms stone tells us that the rock was formed in a very hot climate, similar to rocks found in Australian deserts. So how were the mountains formed in a hot/tropical climate when it clearly isn’t that now?

The children had a couple of guesses and offered several answers. Dr. Feehan explained to us that the mountains were found on a plate where central Africa is now and had drifted northwards.

The children of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes were then transported by Brendan Mahon up to Glenbarrow for a very enjoyable walk. We learned that the Glenbarrow waterfall doesn’t appear on the old maps of the area and what is there today has been shaped by quarrying. Rocks were identified, plants named and everyone present had a thoroughly enjoyable day.

The question of the day was when Dr. Feehan was asked how he knew so much without having to look up a book (like their class teacher!). ‘Because I’m old’, was the response. ‘Are you old enough to be a granddad?’ ‘Nearly,’ said Dr. Feehan. ‘Well, when you’re a granddad, THEN you’ll know everything!’ I would bet Dr. Feehan doesn’t get those types of questions in UCD!

The children and staff of S.N Ros Fhionnghlaise in Rosenallis would like to extend a sincere word of thanks to Dr. John Feehan for being so generous with his time and helping the children become more aware of the wonderful environment on their doorstep.