The Land Library’s celtic roots run deep. For the past 30+ years, we have built a strong collection of books on the natural histories of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales — with a special emphasis on the Hebrides and Ireland’s western coast.
With Saint Patrick’s Day upon us, we reached for one of our favorites: Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape edited by F.H.A. Aalen, Kevin Whelan, and Matthew Stout.
This handsome atlas explores the rural landscape as a defining element of Ireland’s national heritage. Far more than a collection of maps, this book is thickly illustrated with photos, drawings, diagrams, and charts. An excellent text presents a narrative where layer upon layer of natural & cultural histories intertwine. Detailed descriptions are given of building styles, field and settlement patterns, archaeological monuments, villages, woodlands and bogs. Abundant maps open your eyes to Ireland’s glacial past, along with its rich heritage of stone circles, ring forts, sacred wells, Cistercian monasteries, and much more.
Here’s just a brief sampler of other Irish books and authors that have found a home at the Land Library.
Off the southwest coast of Ireland, The Blasket Islands has produced a remarkable set of lyrical memoirs. They are books coming straight from native voices, and not part of a literary movement. Our favorite might just be Maurice O’Sullivan’s Twenty Years A-Growing, translated into English in 1933. E.M.Forster wrote the introduction to that edition, and to this day, his praise for O’Sullivan’s book seems pitch perfect: “…here is the egg of a sea-bird — lovely, perfect, and laid this very morning.”
Also pictured above: Ireland: A Smithsonian Natural History by Irish naturalist Michael Viney — a well done and very comprehensive guide.
The Land Library has many books on Ireland’s flora and fauna, plus a special shelf devoted to the works of writer and cartographer Tim Robinson:
Tim Robinson has won two Irish Book Awards for his Connemara trilogy. Writing about Robinson’s two volume study of the Aran Islands, Michael Viney describes it as “one of the most original, revelatory and exhilarating works of literature ever produced in Ireland.”
The writer Robert Macfarlane has had a huge influence on the Land Library’s team. We’re also not aware of anyone else who catagorizes authors by rock type. Here is Macfarlane on Tim Robinson (pictured above):
Limestone has been blessed with two exceptional 20th century writers. The first of these is WH Auden, who so loved the high karst shires of the northern Pennines….The second of the great limestone writers is Tim Robinson. On the west coast of Ireland, in County Clare, between the granite of Galway and the sandstone of Liscannor, rises a vast limestone escarpment, pewterish in colour on a dull day, silver in sunshine….So begins one of the most sustained, intensive and imaginative studies of a landscape that has ever been carried off.”
So here’s a question: Won’t there be people in the Rockies who will want to read the works of Tim Robinson of the Aran Islands?
YES, we’ve always thought so.