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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Book launch: The Atlantic Coast of Ireland

It may come as a surprise to some family historians to know that John Grenham, the Dublin-based genealogist and author of the best-selling Tracing your Irish Ancestors (now in its fourth edition), has interests beyond genealogy.

He is putting them to good use in The Atlantic Coast of Ireland, a book to be launched this evening, in which he has written a series of short essays to accompany a collection of stunning landscape photographs taken by Jonathan Hession.

In typical Grenham style, his texts convey his wide range of knowledge as much as his characteristic wit.

He says: "I grabbed the opportunity to get out of the genealogy ghetto and unburden myself about ecology, geology, myth, Irish accents, the Gaeltacht, religion, what’s wrong with Kerry and whatever you’re having yourself. Complete editorial freedom went straight to my head."

The book visits Ireland’s wild west – the Atlantic coast – heading southwards from Donegal through Sligo and Mayo to Galway before crossing into Munster to visit Clare, Kerry and Cork. In the process it tells the story of the coast's landscape, its people, its history, the bogs, emigration, superstition, and much more. Here is a sample where John writes about the weather:

"...the main feature of the weather here is not rain (despite what it sometimes feels like), the main feature is variability. More than three to four days in the future, Irish weather is completely unpredictable. It can touch 30 degrees C. in summer and minus 15 in winter. It can also go up to 15 or 16 in winter and stay down at 15 or 16 in summer. It can rain at any time of the year for an hour, a day, a week, a month. Being an Irish weather forecaster is a thankless job, and the favourite defensive euphemism of Irish forecasts is the word "unsettled". Irish weather is unsettled like the Black Death was an outbreak of acne."

The Atlantic Coast of Ireland will be formally launched this evening in Dubray Books, Grafton Street, Dublin. It's a 176-page hardback and is published by Frances Lincoln, price €25.

ISBN-10: 0711235791
ISBN-13: 978-0711235793