2019 will be The Year of Geography. This is an initiative, headed up by the Geographical Society of Ireland, but also involving geography teachers and other members of the Irish geographical community, to better illustrate what modern Geography is all about and to better highlight the work that geographers do.
This aims to be an outreach to people outside of the Universities, in particular, to foster a greater interest in the work of geographers/geographical research and to foster a better/more nuanced understanding of what geography is amongst the Irish public.
Many of the “big questions” facing contemporary Ireland – and indeed the wider world – are questions that geographers are uniquely placed/trained to be able to address; questions such as climate change, migration, urban housing provision, pollution, the impacts of economic/cultural globalisation and social, economic and regional inequalities, to list a few.
Geographical knowledge and geographical skills are needed more today than at any time in the past; however, this is a time in which Geography has been put at threat by the decision to remove Geography as a core subject on the Junior Cert programme.
The Year of Geography will mainly focus on a different Irish county each week across most of the year, with the exception of a number of themed weeks.
During the weeks that will focus specifically on a different county, there will be some dissemination of interesting geographical facts about that county, making use of social media and other outlets to highlight/publicise this material.
However, in trying to move away from a “capes and bays” understanding of what Geography is – this will not by any means be the “be all and end all” of that week’s work.
There will be a focus on what makes that particular county unique/different – in terms of its geological, climatological, cultural, social, political etc. characteristics, as well as a focus on how that county relates to, and is shaped by, the rest of Ireland, Europe and the world.
Each County Week will highlight recent geographical research that offers insights/findings relating to that particular county, as well as other geographical research on social/cultural, political, economic and environmental problems/issues, which might have specific relevance for that county.
It is also planned to have resources/materials on the Geographical Society of Ireland website, which would be available for use by geography teachers in primary and secondary school, who want to get involved in the Year of Geography, during their own County Week, or other, themed, weeks.
The first month of the Year of Geography will focus on the Midland Counties, commencing with Laois Week in the first week of the New Year. Laois is an ideal county to start the Year of Geography in, as it is effectively a microcosm of all Ireland:
- Mixing urban/Dublin commuter belt areas in the east of county with very rural areas in the west
- Featuring a wide range of different soil types (and hence different agricultural activities)
- Featuring many features of especial geographic interest (the bogs, Slieve Bloom Mountains, heritage towns, old monastic sites, Rock of Dunamaise and “The Hums”, The Heath…etc.).
If you are interested in hearing more about the Year of Geography, or in getting involved in activities relating to your County Week or any of the other county/theme weeks, as listed in the proposed scheduled on the Society’s webpage, then please contact Adrian Kavanagh, President of the Geographical Society of Ireland ( ).