Dolmen Eco centre (South West Dgl)

Image of Kilcooney Dolmen
Kilcooney Dolmen - courtesy of Maeve Gallagher

Situated in South West Donegal, the Dolmen Eco centre provides an enriching experience experience for visitors. It contains a Field Study Room with displays, an Activity Room for sports, a Multi-functional hall, and Tourist Information Point and Craft Shop - there is something for everyone. The Eco centre is the first energy community owned complex in the Republic of Ireland. The Centre also specialises in Donegal’s archaeological geological heritage with many historical monuments featured within its surroundings.

Kilclooney Dolmen is a Portal Tomb built more than 4000 years ago. It is a fine example of the oldest kind of monument found in Northwest Europe, so it is much older than Stonehenge. Other impressive examples of Portal Tombs are found in this vicinity including Kilclooney More Court Tomb and Inishkeel, the early Ecclesiastical Site of Conall Caol. This Celtic Christian settlement was founded on this tidal island in the 6th Century AD. The two ruined churches and the decorated gravestones are later constructions, dating from mediaeval times. Kilcooney also possesses a geology hinterland.

About 400 million years ago a meteorite measuring about a kilometer across crashed to earth and penetrated the solid crust close to the Dolmen Centre. Melted by the heat of the liquid mantle, crustal material rose into the resulting crater to form a granite pluton 10 kilometers in diameter. Surrounding this pluton, cracks in the crust were invaded by explosion breccias and smaller plugs of mantle rock (that crystallised as it rose from the earth's interior).

Massive uplift, beginning about 65 million years ago, resulted in deep erosion. This removed about 10 kilometers of overlying softer rocks and sliced right down to the rugged old rocks of Donegal. It revealed the deep roots of the meteorite crater, opening for study a feature that is unique in Ireland. The final chapter in the geology story tells about the great ice-sheet that covered Kilclooney. It melted only 15,000 years ago, and left behind the U-shaped valleys, corries, rock-basin lakes, drumlins and erratic rocks that can be seen all around the Dolmen centre.

"The provision of a focal point for all the community with special reference to Culture, Ecology, Education, Environment, Health, Heritage and Leisure"