2019 Year of Geography – Donegal Week, 8th – 14th December
2019 is the Year of Geography and this week is Donegal Week.
This initiative from the Geographical Society of Ireland is designed to better illustrate what the study of geography is all about and to highlight the important contributions geographers make to our understanding of contemporary Ireland and indeed the wider world.
According to Drumkeen native, Dr Arlene Crampsie, School of Geography, UCD the primary aim of this initiative is to highlight the importance of geography as a subject, but it also serves to shed a spotlight on one county each week.
"Geography is much more than its stereotyped reputation of a subject where people simply learn about capital cities, longest rivers and highest mountains. Instead it is key to our understanding of many of the “big questions” facing people on the planet today.
"Geography is an inter-disciplinary subject bringing together understandings of the physical landscape and all aspects of human life. Geography focuses on human-environment interactions and how these happen in and actively shape places across the world.
"Today, Irish geographers are actively researching a wide range of issues including: coastal erosion; climate change; migration; urban development; housing provision; rural isolation; pollution; the impacts of economic and cultural globalisation; and social, economic and regional inequalities to list just a few.
"In attempting to highlight this breadth and depth the 'year of geography' initiative has dedicated a week to the geography of each Irish county throughout 2019 and they have left the best to last with this week being Donegal Week.
"Over the next few days on Facebook and Twitter we will be highlighting interesting geographic facts about Donegal, showcasing geographers’ research about the county and asking the public to get involved with their favourite geography related fact about the county or telling us what makes Donegal unique. We also want to hear how Donegal relates to, and is shaped by, the rest of Ireland, Europe and the world," she said.
Geography really does matter for the people of Donegal, said Dr Crampsie.
"The most northerly county in Ireland, Donegal is connected to the rest of the Republic of Ireland only by our border with Leitrim and is often perceived as isolated from the rest of the country.
"Despite our miles of coastline, sandy beaches and majestic scenery (including the highest sea cliffs in Europe at Slieve League) Donegal has only recently made its way onto tourist routes around Ireland, thanks in no small part to the Wild Atlantic Way.
"Our border with Northern Ireland ensured that the impact of the Troubles were keenly felt across the county and means that the outcomes of Brexit will have consequences for Donegal that simply will not be felt in the same way for the rest of Ireland.
"Years of economic isolation have led to generations of emigrants leaving the county for other part of Ireland and overseas. This is still attested to by the vibrant Donegal Associations across the world, by our strong links with Scotland in particular and by those of us who travel on a weekly basis from Donegal to Dublin, Galway and further afield.
"And yet, Donegal is a vibrant county with a rich, diverse history, heritage and culture, from the Ulster-Scots tradition in the east of the county to the Gaeltacht regions further west. Geography helps us understand how our location and the physical landscape shape and have been shaped by our range of historical, political, economic, social and cultural landscapes.
"At this time when geographical skills and knowledge are needed more than at any time in the past, the study of Geography is severely threatened by the decision to remove Geography as a core subject on the Junior Cert programme."
She added: "So let’s showcase how important geography is to Donegal and do get involved in the conversations happening this week.
"You can follow the discussions via #DonegalWeek and #YearofGeography on Twitter or via the Geographical Society of Ireland on Facebook and remember to use these hashtags if you want to share your thoughts on what makes Donegal so unique!"
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