Connemara National Park is located in the west of County Galway, near Letterfack. Itcovers an area of 2,957 hectares encompassing grasslands, heaths, blanket bog, andmountains. The sampling site is within the National Park in an area of lowland blanketbog, with the Owengarve River flowing through it (Grid ref. L7157). The bedrock in thispart of Connemara is mainly metamorphic schist in the lowlands, the Twelve Bens andMaumturk mountains are composed of weather-resistant quartzite, and to the south (fromRoundstone to west of Galway city) the bedrock is composed mainly of igneous granite.These are all parent materials for acidic soils. There is little glacial drift to be found inthis region (O’Connell 1994) so the bedrock has strongly influenced soil formation.Connemara has an oceanic climate, with >1200mm rainfall per annum and >200 raindays annually (Met Eireann, 2009). The present-day vegetation is composed of various
Calluna vulgaris, Eriophorum angustifolia, Molinia caerulia, Ericatetralix, Potentilla erecta, Juncus spp.
The environmental conditions of the region are conducive to the formation of blanket bog given the combination of high rainfall, and thus high leaching in the soils,and acidic soil-forming rocks. Typically in areas of blanket bog there has beenpodzolisation of the soil, whereby minerals have been leached out of the upper surfacelayer (A horizon) to the lower layer (B horizon), which has lead to the formation of animpermeable iron pan layer. However samples taken at this site have little iron pan andwaterlogging is mainly due to a charcoal-rich deposition at the start of the peat formation(O’Connell 1990). The anaerobic conditions within the bog provide an ideal record of vegetation history as all pollen and spores that have landed on the bog surface in the pastwill have been preserved. The monolith FRKIV was taken from an exposure, caused bystream erosion, on the western bank of the Owengarve River.