Posted by: Alan Pitts | May 8, 2012

My Irish Summer 2012

So here I am back for another summer in Ireland.

Last summer, as some of you might remember, I was here as a student to complete a 6-week field course run by James Madison University. Well, after working really hard last summer and maintaining 6 weeks of ceaseless enthusiasm in the field, the good folks at JMU asked me to come back this year as a Teaching Assistant.

I couldn’t be any more thrilled for this opportunity to continue learning and to share what I have learned in a field setting. I am also very happy to be working in my very first geology instructional(ish) position. For the most part, my duties will be focused on managing the students around the facilities; letting everyone know when their laundry day is, when they need to be down to set up dinner, and making sure everyone is getting along alright.

Aside from my duties at the facility I will certainly not shy away from helping students in the field and I am very eager to aid in this regard. Although I still consider myself a field student as well, I really enjoy working with less experienced students helping to develop their descriptive skills, and approach to field geology. Sometimes people just need to look at things in a different way before they can really understand and take ownership of the concepts. This is the type of thing I feel that I am good at; looking a things in a different way, making useful analogies and finding logical ways to solve problems. Field geology can be really stressful and scary for some, there is so much uncertainty and no book to consult for the right answers. I have learned that in order to be a good field mapper one must not be afraid to to trust their observations and make interpretations. I hope I can help this year’s crew cut through the stress so they can; make good descriptions, take good measurements and proceed with interpreting the geology.

With that brief introduction. Here is a quick rundown of where I will be going during my time in Ireland. Rather than explain it all in words, I drew a little map.

This is a general geologic map of Ireland, available through the GSI, which I modified to highlight the plan over the next 7 weeks.

It is worth noting that I made no special attempt to place the markers in their exact location. I also made zero attempt to  match my dashed yellow lines with the actual path of roadways, so these paths could be much more (but probably less) direct. There are also several other little logistical points that I didn’t include on this map to keep it simple.

1- Arrive in Dublin. This is where I am right now. Mostly just relaxing and taking in the culture before camp starts

2- Belfast. Here is where I will meet the other instructors to get our field camp vans.

3- Galway. After collecting the students, we will drive to the lovely little town of Clonbur in County Galway, this will be our home for the next month.

4- Clare. After leaving Clonbur, this is where we will spend two weeks studying the stratigraphy of the Clare Basin and (depending on each student’s choice of track) Hydrology. We will also visit the Cliffs of Mohr and surely take in some great traditional Irish music during free time.

5- Northern Ireland. A short trip to see the Giants Causeway, Cliffs of Ulster and maybe some castles

6- Cork. After field camp ends I will be on my way to see the great Irish folk musician Christie Moore live in Concert with a few Irish friends!

7- Dublin- Back to where I started to relax and decompress for a week before coming back home to the US.

It seems like a long trip, but if it is anything like last year, I know it will all be over before I know it. Since I wont have the heavy work load of creating maps and writing reports like last year, this year I am challenging myself to blog as much as possible.



  1. Hi Alan,

    Give me a call when you get to Clonbur. I would like to meet you.
    Kevin Joyce, Connemara marble

  2. While I am envious of your entire trip, I may be most jealous of getting to see Christy Moore in Cork.

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