When you think of precious stones, minerals and gems, Ireland is not a country that automatically springs to the top of the list, if at all.
Many think that Ireland is a land of bog and granite, limestone karst pavement, glacial scree, erratics and sticky clay but there are a number of places where gemstones can be found. You're not going to make your fortune but you could be surprised.
Ireland's gemstones - Amethyst
Amethyst is a semiprecious stone with a magnificent purple to violet colouration, said to have a number of properties including as a love charm, as protection against thieves and drunkenness and as an aid to sleep. Amethyst is linked with the Zodiac sign Pisces and the month of February, it is said to strengthen relationships and give its wearer courage.
Small amounts of amethyst are found in many locations throughout the world in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. It is a form of silicon dioxide (quartz) and the most important deposits are usually found in the fractures and cavities of igneous rocks. In Brazil and Uruguay, large amounts of amethyst are found in the cavities of basalt flows and can contain up to several tonnes of crystals.
Smaller globular cavities, known as geodes, can be found within larger caverns and are often opened in a way that displays the crystals inside.
Keem Bay on Achill Island, County Mayo is a perfect horseshoe bay sheltered to the west by Moyteoge Head. A clifftop road, constructed along the route of an older track, crosses a local geological boundary and exposed a seam of amethyst quartz in the cliffside. Amethyst crystals have regularly been found here after heavy rain although recent cliff protection works may make finding crystals a little harder.
Below an Amethyst and Hematite cluster, found on Achill Island, Co Mayo
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