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Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape
Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape

Our Price:59.00
Authors: F.H.A. Aalen, Kevin Whelan and Matthew Stout
Publication Year: 2nd edition November 2011
Pages: 432
Size: 299 x 237mm

ISBN: 9781859184592


This is a major update of this bestselling work on the Irish landscape. When it appeared in 1997, it was instantly hailed as a pioneering volume in increasing appreciation of the Irish landscape as a crucial component of national heritage. The sumptuous quality of its design, the cutting edge cartography, and the clarity of its prose ensured that it became an award-winning volume, widely praised inter-nationally as one of the best books ever to appear on a national landscape. This second edition is far from a cosmetic reissue. At least one-third of the content is entirely new. This includes a complete rewriting of the contemporary section to take account of the Celtic Tiger, and there are six fresh regional case studies - Tory island (Donegal), the Wicklow uplands, Inistiogue (County Kilkenny), Aughris (County Sligo), Clonfert (County Galway) and Point Lance in Newfoundland. There is a new cover, many new maps and photographs, a listing of the top fifty books on the Irish landscape, and a guide to the best websites.

The Atlas of Irish Rural Landscape is a magnificently illustrated, beautifully written and pioneering introduction to the hidden riches of the Irish landscape. Topics include archaeology, field and settlement patterns, houses, demesnes, villages and small towns, monuments, woodland, bogs, roads, canals, railways, mills, mines, farmsteads, handball alleys, and a host of other features. The Atlas combines superbly chosen illustrations and cartography with a text amenable to a general reader. Hundreds of maps, diagrams, photographs, paintings allow the Atlas to present a mass of scholarly information in an accessible way, suitable for any school, college or home. The Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape also has a significant practical dimension. It increases the visibility of the landscape within national heritage and establishes a proper basis for conservation and planning. It explores contemporary changes resulting from the Celtic Tiger, and proposes how to implement necessary change in sympathy with inherited landscape character.

Average Rating: Average Rating: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 9 Write a review »

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5 of 5 READERS may wonder about the level of continuity a February 23, 2017
Reviewer: William J Smyth Geography Department UCC from Republic of Ireland  
Readers may wonder about the level of continuity and the nature of the changes from the first edition of this Atlas. Sections that have remained substantially the same are Aalen’s The Irish landscape: synthesis of habitat and history, Stout’s early landscapes: from prehistory to plantation and Whelan's the modern landscape: from plantation to present. The sections on the Components of the Irish landscape are in the main replicated. But these sections are now enhanced by new images and photos and excellent caption summaries for each map and photo. There are two major transformations to the first edition. Firstly The Challenge of Change section now by Kevin Whelan has been completely rewritten and is now the pivot of the Atlas. Secondly five highly original new regional case studies of the Wicklow uplands Tory Island Donegal, Aughris heartland Sligo, Inistioge Kilkenny and Point Lance, Newfoundland have replaced the first edition case studies.  Fred Aalen was central in providing the stimulus for the making of the original Atlas and his philosophical caring attitude towards the Irish landscape shines through in this volume. He is well aware that both new technology and a global economic system have an invasive capacity of unprecedented power far beyond anything previously imagined. Consequently fragile landscape quality can only be maintained by conscious design and comprehensive and sustained action. Recognising Ireland’s profound European heritage Aalen sees the island’s culture as very much part of the Atlantic world while emphasising that the creation of its landscapes always involved a dialogue between insular and continental as well as indigenous vis-à-vis exogenous forces. In short the Irish cultural landscape is plural. In the following section Geraldine and Matthew Stout bring the reader on a thrilling journey through Ireland’s early landscapes from Mesolithic sites, Neolithic tombs, Bronze Age settlement and early cultural/ political nuclei such as the great hill forts onto the mysterious Celts whose conquering invasions have been challenged by negative results from DNA analysis. Supported by fabulous maps of 47 000 ring forts and 5 534 pre Norman churches they recover millennium old settlement patterns and rich landscape layers that have survived into the 21st century a state of completeness unique in Western Europe.

In the analysis of the modern landscape we encounter the crisp eloquent writing of Kevin Whelan. His command of the cultural and historical geography of this colonial era is immense; he has a sure understanding of the ecology of Irish settlement and farming practices and his use of the Irish language is always effective. His writing is always apt and to the point. For example on page 82 the big farm / small farm divide in Co Cork demonstrates the hurling/ football divide. Christy Ring’s succinct advice as to how to best promote hurling in Cork was to stick a knife in every football found east of this line. Kevin likes dramatic statements: the potato not Cromwell peopled the west of Ireland p.89. The continuing survival of Irish landlords there the Gaelic partible inheritance system and proto industrialisation may also have helped. But it is in the newly written section The Challenge of Change that one encounters the full force of both Kevin Whelan s writing and his passion for the Irish landscape. He begins by noting that between 1995 and 2005 over half a million 584 073 new houses were built. His view that the economy was bingeing on property a promiscuous planning regime profligate lending standards and reckless government seems valid. But this chapter is not just a critique of the failures of this period it also puts forward a whole series of sensible policy initiatives. The encouragement of a dynamic vernacular architectural tradition and the conservation of a rapidly depleting stock of surviving vernacular buildings are recommended. The furthering of Ireland’s priceless international reputation as a green country should be encouraged to boost both food production and tourism activities. An impressive feature of this section is its emphasis on local and regional responsibilities in caring for landscapes and its absolutely essential emphasis on nurturing cultural landscapes as a whole rather than an overly site specific emphasis planners and Heritage Council please note. Ruth McManus’s subsection on Celtic Tiger housing details both the context and impact of the property boom as new housing estates fuelled by a land rezoning frenzy formed accretions on the edges of rural towns and villages . The use of terms like muck mansions may reveal a lack of sympathy for and understanding of the motivations of couples seeking better homes. Are the over the top excesses of the Celtic Tiger era now being matched by over the top reactions? Was nothing good achieved in this era? This section on the Challenge of Change does not address the saddest feature of the post Celtic Tiger era that many young people are again leaving for foreign shores.

The concluding section of regional case studies is superb. Geographer and Dubliner Arnold Horner turns his attention southwards to explore the Wicklow uplands its geology and its historical geography. Administrator Jim Hunter skilfully reconstructs the historical and social geography of Tory Island. However his view of the island today may be just a little romanticised. This once authentic and resilient farming and fishing community is now almost totally dependent on state supports and summer tourism. Archaeologist Elizabeth Fitzpatrick’s recreation of the rich heritage of the small Aughris headland in Co Sligo is a loving and superb portrait. Her knowledge of every square inch and every monument in this once pivotal assembly place shines through as text and images are skilfully interwoven to form a wonderful vista. Ethnographer Fidelma and historian Edward McCarron’s recreation of the historical geography of that beautiful and strategic village of Inistioge makes for pleasurable reading. The River Nore forms a central thread for the stories of this well documented region from its rich medieval heritage to the landscapes of emigration as the families of Inistioge’s townlands make their way all over the English speaking world beginning with Newfoundland. And Newfoundland provides the final case study. Here geographer John Mannion brings a lifetime’s harvest of research on Irish settlement in Canada and Newfoundland to bear on the farmer fishing settlement of Point Lance at the top of the Avalon Peninsula. Mannion highlights that the haphazard arrangement of the Point Lance farm settlement is very deceptive underpinned by a strictly organised kinship and social network which the author documents while skilfully locating this settlement in the wider context of Irish migration to the New World. There are many other gems in this second edition of the Atlas. The now newly integrated subsection called The Joy of Small Things is a poetic cum photographic celebration of a host of neglected landscape features. Anne Ryan’s piece on handball alleys is particularly outstanding reminding us all including Departments of the Environment and other relevant agencies that vernacular features like the handball alley farm villages and composite if fragile cultural landscapes require careful nurturing. This book is a treasure trove of images insights and critical interpretations of the diverse and rich cultural and natural landscapes of Ireland

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5 of 5 Given its ambitious title this is a satisfying he May 17, 2012
Reviewer: Sean Sheehan Todays Farm from Republic of Ireland  
Given its ambitious title  this is a satisfying hefty tome of over 400 pages  substantially rewritten since the first edition appeared 15 years ago. Over that time  there have been significant changes in the country s landscape  one of the many new chapters is  Celtic Tiger housing   as well as advances in knowledge and research methods of the various disciplines   geography  archaeology  history  cartography   that provide the inspiration and content for this substantial book. There are over 500 maps but  with ones showing the locations of handball alleys  thatched roofs in eastern Ireland  landfill sites or the composition of field boundaries across the country  this is not an atlas of the kind that will be familiar from geography lessons in school. The ample text is not written in academese and covers obvious topics like fields  bogs and woodlands as well as micro topics in a chapter like  The Joy of Small Things . Regional case studies cover Wicklow  Tory Island  the Aughris headland  Nore Valley and an Irish settlement in Newfoundland.

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5 of 5 For this large and comprehensive volume the edito May 9, 2012
Reviewer: Tom Kennedy Science Spin 52 from Republic of Ireland  
For this large and comprehensive volume  the editors  F H A Aalen  Kevin Whelan  and Matthew Stout have brought 25 contributors together to examine how this interaction with our surroundings had produced what we have come to think of as a typical Irish landscape. As these assorted geographers  architects  archaeologists  historians and scientists note  our ability to shape the landscape now is far greater than it ever was in the past. In covering fifteen topics ranging from mining  boglands  plantations  house design  demesnes  and transport  the contributors to this book show how the landscape is  as one of the editors  F H A Aalen puts it  a synthesis of habitat and history. When first published in 1997 the Atlas of the Irish Landscape was an enormous success as a best seller  going to print six times. In this revised and up dated edition  much of the content has been rewritten  sections  such as one on the impact of the Celtic Tiger  have been added and there are some detailed case studies of areas of particular interest.

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5 of 5 There s just so much to enjoy in this book that it May 1, 2012
Reviewer: Hugh Oram Books Ireland April 2012 from Republic of Ireland  
There s just so much to enjoy in this book that it s impossible to name all its good features without turning this review into an encyclopedia. Sections such as  Joy of Small Things  are innovative  as are the detailed investigations of such places as Tory Island and Inistioge in county Kilkenny. Maps and photographs abound: a source of pure pleasure. We can see endangered and vanished species  like the phone boxes that once adorned many a main street and the narrow gauge railway in county Leitrim  1957. We can also examine modern invasive species  like mobile phone masts disguised as trees and the giant rhubarb that stalks Achill island. With over 400 pages  printed in Malta  the book is an ideal dipping into volume  unreservedly recommended.

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5 of 5 Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape is a well balan May 1, 2012
Reviewer: Stuart Sheldon Sherkin Comment 2012 from Republic of Ireland  
Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape is a well balanced collection of informative maps and diagrams along with flowing text and evocative photography. The early chapters cover almost every aspect of Irish history that has left a lasting mark on the landscape; from early Bronze Age settlements  through the growth of agriculture during the middle ages up to the house building boom in the 1990 s. Later chapters focus on key components of the Irish Landscape  geographical  cultural and industrial  looking at their changing forms and uses. The closing chapters look at specific case studies from every corner of Ireland and look at how the a fore mentioned area s have touched and shaped these islands  valley s and villages. Every page of the book is filled with a wealth of information that bear s testament to the contributions from 26 leading experts in their fields. Along with the constant geographical orientation provided by the minature map on every page  the reader is always well informed on both the subject being covered and it s position in relation to the rest of the country. Overall the book encapsulates a breathtaking range of topics whilst maintaining a level of accessibility and detail that make it an excellent addition to household and academic bookshelves alike.

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