Rockhounding Ireland: 5 Must-Visit Ideas For Those Who Love Rocks and Travel

Ireland is a great place to go rockhounding.

Here are just a few suggestions that anyone who enjoys the hobby should check out.

Rockhounding Ireland (A Visitor’s Guide)

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.

Considering its small size, Ireland has a diverse geology.

In keeping with the bedrock of Ireland, there are a variety of rock types throughout Ireland that formed during different geological periods.

Limestone, in particular, covers much of Ireland.

Extrusive Igneous Rocks are common in the north east of the island.

Sedimentary rocks such as sandstone and mudstone are also common in Ireland.

Achil Island

The island of Achil, off the west coast of Ireland, is situated near County Mayo, and is the largest of the Irish islands.

The island is best known for its pristine beaches and high cliffs.

It is characterized by rugged mountains and peat bogs.

Getting to the island is a breeze.

Visitors can arrive by car via the N5 motorway, train, plane or bus.

The island is about a 75-minute drive from Knock Airport in western Ireland.

The island offers a variety of accommodation for visitors, including hotels, bed and breakfasts and rental accommodation.

The island has five Blue Flag beaches.

Rock hunters will find amethyst on Achil Island.

Rock lovers should take a cliff road to Keem Bay once on the island.

You will be treated to spectacular views on the drive there.

Along this road, you will pass by a geological boundary where amethyst quartz is exposed.

This is where rock hounds can hunt for their very own amethyst quartz.

It is estimated that the best time to look for amethyst quartz is right after a rainfall.

Visitors can camp on Keem beach, provided they leave no trace of their visit and abide by the rules for wild camping.

Grotto and slate quarry, Valentia Island

Another great location for rock hounds.

The slate quarry first opened in 1816 but a rock fall closed the quarry in 1910.

However, the quarry has been open on and off since then.

Interestingly, to note that it is famous for providing the slate for the Paris Opera House amongst others.

This is what makes this slate stone so desirable.

To access the island, visitors have two options, by car from Portmagee or by ferry from Reenard.

While it may not be a prime rock hound destination, visitors are able to see slate being cut and have the opportunity to take home some discarded pieces.

There are various forms of accommodation available on the island, including bed and breakfasts, hotels, and rented accommodation.

The quarry is accessible for most of the day, but if you would like to see the quarry men at work, you can see this during daytime hours. 

Gortdrum Mine, Monard, Tipperary County, Munster, Ireland

The copper mine was discovered in 1963.

It was worked over a period from 1967 to 1975.

Collectors have found cinnabar crystals up to 2 mm in the area.

Chalcopyrite and dolomite have also been found in the area.

Rock hounds can expect to find rare gortdrumite and some of the best tyrolite.

The mine is located southeast of Limerick, Ireland, roughly a 36 minute drive.

Take the R527 to Tipperary Rd/N24 in Limerick and continue straight ahead at the roundabout.

There are various hotels, cottages, and lodges located in the surrounding area that can host visitors. The site is accessible year-round. 

Stage Cove, Bunmahon, Co Waterford

It is located near the Copper Coast in Ireland.

This name was given to the area, which stretches from the village of Stradbally at the western end to the tiny village of Fenor on the eastern side of the area.

It has been designated as a geopark.

Deposits of minerals formed by the interaction of copper-bearing minerals inside the cliffs and water stain the rocks bright shades of blue and green.

Ancient volcanic eruptions created the volcanic rocks in the area.

There are vents, but it is strongly discouraged to enter them.

These spectacular sights can also be seen along the coast.

Accommodation is available in hostels, bed and breakfasts and various lodges in the immediate area.

What makes this place so great is that there are several attractions for visitors in the area.

The best time of year to visit the place is actually all year round.

Stage Cove is located on the southeast coast of Ireland and is accessible via many of the main roads.

The Burren, Ireland

The name of the area translates as “the place of stones.”

The landscape is characterized by rocky hills and mountains.

The rocks in this area are quite unique, as is the formation of these rocks.

They seem to overlap one another.

The landscape here was formed when the soft parts of the water-soluble limestone dissolved, leaving the harder parts, creating the rock formation.

Rock hunters can scour the area looking for veins of fluorite.

The fluorite found in this area has a very deep purple hue and some pieces have a reddish brown hematite layer.

This area is suitable for rock hounds and children eight years and older.

Rock hunters should take care as the terrain is quite difficult to walk on and slips and falls are a real hazard.

The Burren is located in The Burren National Park.

It is located in the south-eastern part of the park in northern Co Clare.

The park can be accessed from Corofin.

Just take the R476 to Killinaboy.

When you arrive in Killinaboy, take the first right (L1112) before you see the ruins of the 16th century church. The park is accessible by car.

There are two car parks for visitors, one at the visitor center and the other at the trailhead in Dromore Wood.

Both are about 2km from the entrance.

The best part is that there is no charge to visit the site.

However, there is a fee to enter the Cliffs of Moher.

One thing that rock hunters should note when visiting the site is that there are no food or sanitation facilities nearby.

This is another site that is accessible year round. The best times to visit would preferably be during the warmer summer months. 

There are various forms of accommodation available to visitors in the surrounding areas, including hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, and self-catering accommodation. 

Conclusion

Rock hounds will be able to find many old abandoned mines and quarries in the surrounding areas that are equally as impressive and offer a range of different gems, mineral deposits, and other stones and rocks that can be collected. 

Many of the beaches in Ireland also offer a wide selection of stones for enthusiastic rock hounds.

This is the easiest way to collect stones.

Simply pick them up off the beaches.

Pebble collecting opportunities are endless, though consideration should be given to the amount of rocks that are taken off site. 

Egg-shaped pebbles were created from igneous rock.

This is especially true for pebbles that are speckled with crystals, including granite and gabbro. 

There are many sites that can be visited along the coastline as well as on land where rock hounds will be in for a treat.

It is advised to be familiar with the rules and regulations regarding the removal of specific types of gems, minerals, and rocks.

Many adventures await the avid rock hound that travels to Ireland to rock hound. 

rockhounding ireland