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Historic meeting of Irish Palaeontologists marks creation of Irish Palaeo Forum

In a historic gathering at UCC, Irish palaeontologists have come together for the first time to establish the "Irish Palaeo Forum," marking a significant milestone in the country's scientific landscape.

This initiative aims to advance palaeontology in Ireland by fostering collaboration, sharing resources, and raising public awareness about fossils and their significance.

Comprising 32 palaeontologists from six prominent institutions including UCC, University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Dublin City University (DCU), University of Galway (UG), and Atlantic Technological University (ATU), the Irish Palaeo Forum seeks to elevate the profile of Irish palaeontology and provide strategic direction for research, teaching, and public engagement.

The forum aims to raise the profile of Irish palaeontology, creating avenues for collaboration, share knowledge, expertise, and facilities, mentor early career palaeontologists, and inspire the public to explore the world of fossils.

One of the pressing issues the forum intends to address is the enhancement of analytical capabilities, particularly in improving geochemical analytical facilities. Additionally, there is a call for the development of a national strategy for palaeontology that encompasses research, teaching, and public engagement. The digitisation of Irish fossil collections held in public institutions is also a key objective, aiming to make these invaluable resources accessible to researchers worldwide while engaging the public with Ireland's rich fossil heritage.

Professor Maria McNamara of UCC/ERI, one of the founders of the Irish Palaeo Forum, emphasised the importance of bringing fossils to the forefront of public attention. "The people of Ireland need to see more fossils," she said. "Fossils are both inspiring and humbling. They show us our ancient heritage and give us a sense of perspective in time and space."

The establishment of the Irish Palaeo Forum marks a significant step forward for palaeontology in Ireland, signifying a collective effort to unlock the secrets of the past while fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Ireland's natural history.