The south-east of Ireland has been mostly ignored up until really recent times by
Quaternate research workers in Ireland. This is in malice of the importance of the country if, as has frequently
been suggested since the beginning of the 20th century, one of its features is that
it contains the terminal moraine taging the bound of Midlandian glaciation. Recent articles
mentioning to sites on the south seashore ( Gallagher and Thorp, 1997 ; O’Cofaigh and Evans, 2001 ;
Gallagher, 2002 ) every bit good as one site-specific article on county Kilkenny ( McCabe, 1998 ) have
thrown unfastened the inquiry of this, ‘traditional ‘ reading of this country in peculiar in
relation to the being or significance of the Southern Irish End Moraine ( SIEM ) ,
( Charlesworth, 1928 ) .
This paper aims to look into the being of a structural entity of the
description of the Southern Irish End Moraine over the country of county Kilkenny, in the South
E of Ireland.
Southern Irish End Moraine
In the late 19th century, while Carvill Lewis was going through Ireland in order
to look at correspondent but smaller-scale characteristics to those taging the bounds of glaciation in
North America, he recognised characteristics that he believed marked the furthest bound of glaciation
in Ireland. A map he produced at the terminal of his first visit to Ireland in 1885 ( Figure 1 ) was
ne’er redrawn after the observations of his 2nd visit in 1886 when he suggested that the
bound lay further to the South than antecedently drawn by him. The work that Carvill Lewis had
undertaken ballad mostly unknown due to his decease in Manchester in 1888, his field notebooks
and maps being published posthumously in 1894 at the petition of his widow.
It was from this work that Charlesworth ‘s 1928 article followed, an article that was to
about specify the Late Quaternary history of the South of Ireland. Charlesworth, described
and charted what he saw as the terminal moraine of the last glaciation ( Figure 2 ) . He describes the
Irish Geography, Volume 37 ( 1 ) , 2004, 60-76.
Limits of Midlandian glaciation
a typical kettle-moraine, a tangle of fringy accretions, showing with its
peal, jerky and knobbly surface, pitted with infinite knolls and hollows, a
most dramatic visual aspect in the landscape of the state ( p. 295 ) .
Charlesworth drew what he saw as a complex characteristic running across Ireland from the
Irish Sea, near Wexford, to the Atlantic at Kilrush and Kilkee. While ne’er mapped in item,
the moraine was drawn as running through the center of the county of Kilkenny ( Figure 2 ) ,
1885 ) . This represents the first suggestion of a ‘Southern Irish End Moraine ‘ in the literature, a bound
of last glaciation on land in the South of the island.
a dramatic characteristic, a few stat mis in breadth, E of [ … ] Goresbridge, by Dungarvan,
across the Barrow near Borris ( its outwash extends to near Craiguenamanagh ) ,
across the Nore North of Thomastown ( the outwash spreading as far south as
Inishtioge ) , whence it ranges north-westwards on to the northern shoulders of the
Slieve Ardagh Hills, its highest bound here achieving an lift of about 900 pess
OD ( p. 297 ) .
Charlesworth provided little more description of the moraine, preferring to depend on
structural grounds for its being and importance. The article describes the retreat
of ice from the survey country, proposing that the Castlecomer Plateau emerged quickly, organizing
in the south-east of Ireland, overlaid on a hillshaded digital lift theoretical account of south-eastern Ireland.
a nunatak, while two lobes of ice flowed down either side, one along the Nore Valley and one
along the Barrow with meltwaters fluxing down both of these rivers. Moraines of these two
lobes are said to happen North of Kilkenny City and at Bagenalstown ( Charlesworth, 1928 ) .
This was followed by farther retreat, with moraines being deposited during arrests of this retreat
to the North of Carlow on the Barrow and at Attanagh, to the North of Ballyragget in the Nore
The country to the South of this morainic characteristic, which was interpreted as spliting the country
between the penultimate ( ‘Munsterian ‘ ) glaciation and the last ( ‘Midlandian ‘ ) glaciation, was
said to be characterised by an ‘older ‘ , smoother landscape with soft inclines and periglacial
characteristics such as incline sedimentations and perpendicular rocks within subdivisions ( Mitchell, 1976 ) . The deficiency
of limestone clasts was besides said to be characteristic of this ‘Older Drift ‘ of the Munsterian
glaciation, which was non overridden by ice during the last glaciation. This was thought to be
because the limestone would hold weathered out by the periglacial churning of the deposits
during last glaciation. Ice-limits of the Munsterian glaciation is believed to lie offshore to the
South and West of Ireland ( McCabe, 1987 ) .
The thought of the SIEM, foremost proposed by Carvill Lewis ( 1894 ) and described by
Charlesworth ( 1928 ) , was accepted by many and became portion of the general theory of the last
Limits of Midlandian glaciation
Maximal extent of ice during the last glaciation within the survey country harmonizing to
Charlesworth ( 1928 ) , Finch ( 1971 ) , Synge ( 1979 ) and Collins ( 1982 ) . Other writers, such as Warren
( 1992 ) and O’Cofaigh and Evans ( 2001 ) suggest that maximal ice bounds lay offshore during the last
glaciation of Ireland ( see Mitchell, 1976 ; Synge, 1979 ; McCabe, 1987 ; Lambeck, 1996 ;
Mitchell and Ryan, 1997 ) . Further polishs to the theoretical account in the south-east were made by
Finch ( 1971 ) and later by Collins ( 1982 ) , both of whom used dirt types to map what
they considered to be the Southern Irish End Moraine in the utmost south-west of county
Kilkenny ( Figure 3 ) .
As can be seen from the above treatment, there is small understanding as to the bound of the
last glaciation within the survey country. Both Finch ( 1971 ) and Collins ( 1982 ) place countries of
limestone boulder clay to the South of the country described by Charlesworth ( 1928 ) as the bound of the last
glaciation, while research workers such as Warren ( 1992 ) and A ” Cofaigh and Evans ( 2001 )
contend a bound which is on the modern bed of the Celtic Sea. Recent probes by
Gallagher ( 2002 ) have presented grounds for glaciofluvial procedures off Waterford seaport
discharging flows up to several orders of magnitude greater than those of present onto the
Continental shelf, with the suggestion that the palaeochannel was run outing an ice sheet in the
Midlands of Ireland during the Midlandian glaciation.
While new grounds is emerging about glaciation bounds offshore, to day of the month at that place has been
no effort to map the characteristic antecedently described as the Southern Irish End Moraine in the
south-east of the island.
As portion of the Groundwater Protection Scheme for county Kilkenny ( Buckley and
Fitzsimons, 2001 ) , the Quaternate deposits of county Kilkenny were consistently
mapped. The function of the Quaternary deposits was carried out in three stages. The first
involved the compilation of all bing known informations on the Quaternary of the survey country. This
was followed by intensive fieldwork, affecting a crossbeam of the field country, appraising all
preies, crushed rock cavities, watercourse film editings, drains, house foundations, trenches, route film editings,
ditches or any other cutting deep plenty to derive some penetration into the features of the
Quaternate screen. Following this, a boring programme was carried out to garner information
about sediment types.
A high-resolution digital lift theoretical account ( DEM ) for the survey country was obtained from
Ordnance Survey Ireland ( OSI ) . Sixty-six per centum of the survey country was covered by a 10 m
DEM, with 1 m perpendicular truth ( where each pel covers a 10 thousand country and represents an
mean tallness of the topography within that 100 M2s country ) . The balance of the country was
covered by a 50 m DEM.
All information was incorporated into a GIS for easiness of presentation and use.
Together this provided first-class screen of the ice-affected landscape of county Kilkenny. It
was hoped that, with this information, a more accurate image could be gained of the late
Quaternate history of county Kilkenny, and south-east Ireland, and a greater apprehension
could be gained as to whether the bounds of last glaciation are present within this country.
Evidence for SIEM from mapping
Charlesworth ( 1928 ) foremost described the SIEM as a ‘rolling, jerky and knobbly surface,
pitted with infinite knolls and hollows, a most dramatic visual aspect in the landscape of the
state ‘ . When the 10 m DEM of the country is hillshaded from the south-east, no grounds for
this is seen ( Figure 4 ) . If such a dramatic characteristic were to be, one would anticipate to see it at
this graduated table of a DEM, with x, Y, omega points every 10 m. Other small-scale characteristics such as
streamlined hills in the north-west of the county are seeable, with their associated morainic
signifiers ( Figure 5 ) . If these morainic signifiers can be seen on this elaborate declaration DEM, one
has to presume that other morainic signifiers, such as the bound of Midlandian glaciation, should
be seeable besides at this declaration and graduated table, if they exist in the country.
However, what is seeable is the of import barrier of the escarpment of the Southern
Highlands. Harmonizing to Synge ( 1979 ) , this marked the boundary of Midlandian glaciation.
This is a moderately plausible hypothesis, as this escarpment does organize a major boundary,
lifting 70+ meters above the cardinal field of Kilkenny. However, what barrier this would be
to ice which, harmonizing to Hegarty ( 2002a ) reached a minimal tallness of 290 m OD 30 kilometer
to the north-north-west of this point, as is witnessed by the kame patio at Spahill?
Harmonizing to Charlesworth ( 1928 ) , the chief grounds for the SIEM in county Kilkenny
was the presence of suites of glaciofluvial morainic deposits stretching from E to west
across the county. A map of the distribution of glaciofluvial deposits in the Centre of
Kilkenny, the country within which Charlesworth ( 1928 ) mapped the SIEM, is presented in
of grounds for the being of the SIEM within county Kilkenny.
Nore crushed rocks
As can be seen from this map, the most impressive suite of glaciofluvial sedimentations is
centred around the Nore River. Because of the extent of the sedimentation and its well-sorted nature,
legion sand and crushed rock cavities have been runing in the country for many old ages, offering some
superb exposures into the crushed rocks. Within Kilkenny the ‘Nore River crushed rocks ‘ ( Daly, 1992 )
extend from the boundary with Laois to the North of Ballyragget ( NGR 24660 17970 ) to
Thomastown in the South ( NGR 25840 14180 ) . The crushed rock composite associated with the Nore
continues due norths into Laois where it becomes much more extended, going the
prevailing deposit type in the county ( Kilfeather, 2000 ) .
The crushed rocks within the Nore Valley by and large form a series of gently southbound dipping
cobble-gravel beds, chiefly clast supported and sometimes rating into littorals and silts. This
sequence is repeated both horizontally and vertically over the extent of the glaciofluvial
deposits within the Nore Valley.
Hennessy ‘s crushed rock cavity to the North of the town of Bennetsbridge ( NGR 25505 15072 )
shows these crushed rocks good. Here extended faces exposing horizontally to sub-horizontally
bedded crushed rocks are exposed ( Plates 1, 2 ) . The on the job faces are some 15 m in tallness and,
harmonizing to the cavity proprietors, the crushed rocks extend vertically below the present bed of the Nore
River, which flows about 100 m to the E of the cavity.
While bed dips are shallow, the beds within the subdivisions in the cavity are rather varied in their
way of dip. Beds were observed to dunk both to the E and to the West, while a general
way of south-easterly flow was observed. As in other crushed rock cavities in the survey country, faces
in this cavity were excessively high and loose to let accurate measuring of the dip of beds safely.
To the North of the cavity, some loosely cross-cutting beds can be seen. A attractively developed
bowlder paving was exposed during field work to the West of the cavity, merely below the
entryway route ( Plate 3 ) . Some prostration constructions are seeable in the north-east of the cavity, where
beds of sand dip steeply and are contorted. This distortion is thought to be associated with
a boiler hole near by.
Limits of Midlandian glaciation
Hillshaded digital lift theoretical account of north-west Kilkenny, shaded from the south-east,
demoing streamlined hills and morainic signifiers.
These sub-horizontally laminated coarse deposits are rather typical of sandurs or valleytrain
sedimentations and, as with similar deposits found along the Nore Valley, these deposits to
the North of Bennettsbridge are interpreted as stand foring outwash from ice caps to the North.
If the SIEM exists in the country, these deposits, hence, follow it, as at this phase the ice
has retreated to the North, and is breathing meltwater down this major drainage channel.
Therefore, the crushed rocks in this country do non stand for those mapped by Charlesworth in 1928.
Equally good as the presence of glaciofluvial deposits within peculiar countries in Kilkenny, the
absence of glaciofluvial deposits should besides be pointed out. This is peculiarly true of
those countries where, in the yesteryear, a major terminal moraine has been interpreted ( Charlesworth, 1928 ;
Mitchell, 1976 ; Synge, 1979 ; Lambeck, 1996 ) .
Charlesworth, in his 1928 article, drew a series of characteristics that he saw as organizing the
Southern Irish End Moraine. It would now look utile for the map of the Quaternary
deposits of county Kilkenny ( Figure 6 ) to be compared with Charlesworth ‘s diagram of the
SIEM characteristics ( Figure 2 ) .
The first thing to observe is Charlesworth ‘s truth in picturing a belt of glaciofluvial
crushed rocks to the North of the Slieveardagh Hills. This set of glaciofluvial deposits does hedge
the north-west of the Slieveardagh Hills and follows the Nuenna Valley into the Nore Valley.
In a ulterior article, Charlesworth ( 1957 ) bowed to a suggestion made to him by Farrington that
this moraine was recessional. This position of these deposits is besides adopted in this survey, as
at that place seems to be no footing on which to confirm the claim that these crushed rocks represent the
terminal moraine of the last glaciation. While it is accepted that chronology has to stay
unsure, however the presence of similar deposits to the North and the South of this line,
Home plate 1: Hennessy ‘s crushed rock cavity, Bennettsbridge. Beds within the crushed rocks are horizontal to
subhorizontal. The way of flow varies from east – West to west-east, but by and large tendencies north –
South ( from the exposure out to the spectator ) .
Limits of Midlandian glaciation
such as the presence of boulder claies of similar features to the North and to the South of this line,
in peculiar around the country of Callan ( Hegarty, 2002a ) , suggests that the glaciofluvial
deposits represent a phase during deglaciation when the ice was backed up against the
Slieveardagh Hills, and non a Last Glacial Maximum phase where the Slieveardagh Hills were
hindering southbound motion of the ice sheet.
Home plate 2: Sub-horizontally bedded and coarsely trough cross-bedded littorals and crushed rocks in Hennessy ‘s
Home plate 3: Boulder paving within crushed rocks in the southern face of Hennessy ‘s cavity. Stake is 1 m high.
Although the glaciofluvial crushed rocks do follow the Nore downstream ( where they are
interpreted here as a proglacial sandur ) , there is no grounds of these crushed rocks go oning from
the Nore to the Barrow Valley, as is suggested by Charlesworth ( 1928 ) . Charlesworth
describes the moraine as traversing the Nore to the North of Thomastown, from where it winds
to Dungarvan. As said above, the sandur of the Nore Valley extends south every bit far as
Thomastown. However, to the E of Thomastown no crushed rock is found ( Figure 6 ) .
The country of ‘gravel ‘ that Charlesworth describes at Dungarvan is now the site of a
limestone prey. In fact, a set of limestone outcrop exists from an country to the North of
Thomastown to Borris in Carlow, go throughing through Dungarvan ( Figure 6 ) . What Charlesworth
observed in the field in this country as an country of hummocky crushed rocks is in fact an country where
limestone bedrock is outcropping, therefore giving the country a hummocky morphology.
As a comparing of Figure 3 and Figure 4 shows, Synge ( 1979 ) and others put the SIEM
as passing to the North of the Southern Upland country of Devonian sandstone and Ordovician
shales. Here once more, nevertheless, there is a deficiency of glaciofluvial deposits. While it could be
argued that, if the glacier were backed up against this hindrance, meltwater would hold
been channelled off from the ice forepart by proglacial watercourses tapping the glacier from the
highland part, the deficiency of glaciofluvial deposits on this highland country would weaken this
statement and therefore the hypothesis set by Synge ( 1979 ) must be rejected. Field grounds
seems to propose that there is no major terminal moraine running through the country as there is no
set of glaciofluvial deposits running across the country as Charlesworth ( 1928 ) suggested.
The Southern Irish End Moraine was based on a map published by Charlesworth ( 1928 )
that showed big wrappings of morainic stuff stretching across the state and, of peculiar
involvement here, across county Kilkenny. During function of the Quaternary sedimentations, it was seen
that some of the countries that Charlesworth interpreted as morainic crushed rocks were in world
bedrock mounds. A set of glaciofluvial deposits does non stretch across the survey country
( Figure 6 ) . While glaciofluvial deposits do be in the Nore vale, they are non as extended
as Charlesworth envisaged in 1928. These glaciofluvial deposits, confined to the modern
Nore vale, are in fact a sandur sedimentation, stand foring a proglacial meltwater system
dispatching big volumes of H2O and deposit down the major drainage path of the Nore
during the terminal of the last glaciation. These sedimentations do non stand for a morainic set of
crushed rocks stand foring an ice bound, but instead stand for a proglacial system dispatching great
measures of meltwater into the Barrow drainage system ( see Gallagher, 2002 ) . From this
function, no characteristic akin to the SIEM as Charlesworth ( 1928 ) envisaged it exits either
stratigraphically within the deposits of the country or geomorphologically on the landscape.
The morpho-stratigraphic model of the SIEM, hence, falls apart, as it can be
demonstrated that the characteristics mapped by Charlesworth ( 1928 ) are non what he interpreted
them to be.
Questions besides have to originate over the being of the ‘second theoretical account ‘ of the SIEM, that
of Synge ( 1979 ) . Synge ( 1979 ) mapped the Southern Irish End Moraine as bing to the
North of the Southern Upland part. As mentioned earlier, this is a sensible premise,
sing that the escarpment provides a barrier for any ice fluxing from the North.
However, if ice were backed up against this escarpment, it would look sensible to anticipate
glaciofluvial deposits within the vales that run from the escarpment to the South, which
Limits of Midlandian glaciation
seem ripe for roll uping such deposits. While it has been demonstrated elsewhere
( Gallagher, 1997, 2002 ) that the Barrow was a major drainage system for ice from the
Midlands during the last glaciation, nevertheless it would be expected that vales such as
those that exist along the northern escarpment of the Southern Uplands would move as drainage
paths if an ice cap was backed up against this escarpment. However, no glaciofluvial
deposits are found either backed up against this ridge or within the vales. It does non look
plausible that ice was hence backed up against this escarpment and that the Southern
Highlands acted as a barrier to incorporate the last ice sheet to cover the island. Therefore, it is besides
suggested here that Synge ‘s theoretical account of the Southern Irish End Moraine be discarded.
The rejection of the Southern Irish End Moraine once more throws open the argument on the
deposits of the South of Ireland. It has been determined elsewhere that deposits found on
the south seashore are last glaciation in age ( Gallagher and Thorp, 1997 ; O’Cofaigh and Evans,
2001 ) . This adds farther acceptance to the rejection of the SIEM paradigm. However, Bowen et
Al. ( 2002 ) suggest that ice reached its maximal extent during the Midlandian ( Devensian )
prior to the LGM, and obtained a 36Cl day of the month of 37.5AA±1.5 Kas from a site on the Southern Uplands
in Kilkenny. Further dating would assist to decide the chronology of the last glaciation in the
south-east of Ireland.
Primary diamictons besides exist in the survey country and widen to the really south, although
there are big pockets of the survey country that are free of any Quaternary sedimentations ( Hegarty,
2002b ) . However, as there are Quaternate sedimentations to the South of these countries similar to those
found to the North ( for illustration on the Southern Uplands ) and striae exist on these deposit
free surfaces ( McCabe, 1998 ) , it is suggested that these excessively were glaciated, although no
sedimentations were laid down.
The suggestion that these more southern countries were glaciated during the last glaciation,
contrary to the thought of the Southern Irish End Moraine ( Charlesworth, 1928 ) , is besides
supported by the presence of lodgement boulder claies with well-preserved fissility in the really South of
the county ( Hegarty, 2002a ; 2002b ) . Previous theoretical accounts that suggested that the South of the
survey country was non glaciated during the last glaciation based this premiss on the absence of
lodgment boulder claies in the South of Ireland, beyond the country of the SIEM, and in peculiar on a
deficiency of limestone clasts within the boulder claies in the South. However, as has been discussed
elsewhere ( Hegarty, 2002b ) , some boulder claies in the South of the survey country maintain all the
features of lodgment, such as fissility, shearing and overconsolidation, which would
have been destroyed by long periglacial periods. Limestone clasts are besides preserved integral in
many boulder claies in the South ( Figure 7 ) . Therefore, on a stratigraphic footing, it besides has to be taken
that, if boulder claies exist in the South of the survey country that have the same features as boulder claies in the
North which have been interpreted as last glaciation in age, so these southern boulder claies must besides
be interpreted as last glaciation in age. This is peculiarly the instance for lodgment boulder claies.
However, it does non needfully follow that all countries in the south-east of Ireland were
glaciated by the same ice sheet, or that different ice sheets that may hold existed within the
country were coetaneous. In a old publication ( Hegarty, 2002b ) , it was suggested that that two
waies of ice flow seem to be within the survey country. This would propose that two ice
sheets might hold been present within the survey country during the last glaciation. One of these
ice sheets originated in the West of the state, in the country around Galway, as is suggested by
the presence of Galway granite clasts within the deposits of the survey country, in peculiar to
the north-west, with Galway granites being found within glaciofluvial deposit in the Nore
vale, and besides within boulder claies in the north-west of the county ( Figure 8 ) . It is suggested that a
Limits of Midlandian glaciation
farther ice sheet, arising to the North of the survey country, besides flowed over the survey country.
This ice left indexs of an ice flow from north to south in the E of the survey country. The
postulated zone of sutura of these two ice lobes is in the country of the Nore Valley.
of limestone clasts besides within the boulder claies of the South of the county. These boulder claies are dominated by the
local Devonian sandstone bedrock, but contain sums of limestone.
This would besides explicate the deepness and the measure of glaciofluvial deposit in this vale
that makes it different from the modern-day more of import Barrow Valley. Although other
writers ( Gallagher, 1997, 2002 ; Glanville, 1997 ) have suggested that the Barrow was a major
Limits of Midlandian glaciation
drainage channel for Midland ice sheets during the last glaciation, deposits within this survey
country suggest otherwise, with the Barrow vale holding small deepness of deposits to the South
of Goresbridge, while the Nore vale holding up to 30 m deepness and over 1 kilometers width of
glaciofluvial deposits as far south as Bennettsbridge, with these glaciofluvial deposits
go oning, although non in every bit great a measure, every bit far as Thomastown, where the modern river
becomes confined in a deeply entrenched stone channel.
The thought of two ice sheets in the survey country during last glaciation needs farther research
to be substantiated, with dating being peculiarly desirable to accomplish some apprehension of
the form of glaciation. If two ice sheets were present in the country during the last glaciation
it would travel some manner to explicating the countries of periglacial characteristics in the South of Ireland,
as described by Mitchell ( 1973 ) every bit good as Hegarty ( 2002a ) , to the North of countries of ‘fresh ‘
boulder clay. This complexness of deposits points to a complexness of the depositional environment,
where ice still exists in the South while countries to the North have become ice-free and are
undergoing periglacial procedures. The presence of two coetaneous ice sheets in the south-east of
Ireland, one originating in the West of the island and one with a northern birthplace, would
aid to explicate the spacial distribution of primary glacial deposits to the South of countries of
The thought of the SIEM is earnestly undermined if it is seen that the footing on which the
theoretical account was founded ( that a glaciofluvial moraine existed across the state and that this
marked the bound of the last glaciation ) is shown to be wrong. It has been shown that a
glaciofluvial moraine does non be within the country of county Kilkenny, and that the major
glaciofluvial gatherings that exist within this survey country represent proglacial outwash
deposited as the ice sheet was withdrawing at the stopping point of the last glaciation. Charlesworth ‘s
1928 SIEM complex neither exists in the deposits of Kilkenny nor as a geomorphic
landform. Other re-drawings of the SIEM are similarly rejected on sedimentological grounds.
Therefore, the stratigraphic footing of the SIEM must be rejected.
Detailed function of the Quaternary deposits of the mainland of Ireland, every bit good as
offshore, must go on if farther penetrations are to be gained into the Quaternary history of
Ireland. This is peculiarly true, given that the spacial complexness of the deposits in the
South of Ireland most likely mimics the spacial complexness of ice multitudes in the country during
the last glaciation. Ideally, function should be accompanied by dating of the deposits, to
addition a better grip on the sequence of glaciations within this little country. This function
should besides take to bind broader scale top-down function, such as that discussed in Clark and
Meehan ( 2001 ) , with traditional function techniques. This may be achieved by utilizing
Geographic Information Systems as portion of mapping techniques, peculiarly where these GIS
contain informations such as digital lift theoretical accounts and geo-rectified aerial exposure.