This atlas consists of around ninety articles from over fifty contributors covering a wide range of topics that are central to the cultural and natural heritage of Donegal. While the county has received a considerable degree of attention from historians and archaeologists in the past, there has been no one major work to bring together the great diversity of material written about the county's history, landscapes and people.
After decades of neglect and indeed misrepresentation this atlas seeks to literally put Donegal on the map of contemporary Ireland. Contributors are drawn from a wide range of academic disciplines and interests. They include established authors and academics, as well as competent local scholars whose work merits publication. The editors, who have also contributed very substantially to the volume, have sought to 'raise the bar' in regional studies in order to set a high standard of scholarship, and writing, to make this a volume that will be consulted by those interested in the history and heritage of the county for many years to come. Thus contributions range from short pieces of 1,500 words, to specialised chapters of 7,000-10,000 words.
This richly illustrated atlas also has a very strong heritage focus in that the historic, archaeological, natural landscapes and the built environment of the county are treated as powerful elements of Donegal's cultural heritage. Thus topics include historic and recent emigration, Gaelic language and literature, musical traditions, the marine environment, fishing and the coastal economy, textile industries, the history of tourism and travel, art and architecture, Ulster Scots and Donegal's Presbyterian community, material culture, farming, the history of rail, newspapers, sport, the natural and physical landscape and urban-rural relations.
Jim MacLaughlin is an author and political geographer who has written extensively on a wide range of topics, including the politics of state formation and nation-building, the history of academic disciplines, historical and contemporary emigration, ethnic separatism, racism and, most recently, the history of Ireland's sea fisheries.
Seán Beattie is editor of the Donegal Annual, the journal of County Donegal Historical Society, and a graduate of University College Dublin and Ulster University. He has published several books on the history of Donegal and completed his doctorate on the impact of the Congested Districts Board on Donegal. In 2012, NUI Galway conferred an honorary degree on him in recognition of his contribution to historical research.