Clare Island Lectures


Darwin, Praeger and the Clare Island Surveys Poster from exhibition

Clare Island Abbey and its paintings

Conleth Manning speaks about Clare Island Abbey and its magnificent wall paintings - a very rare, intriguing and charming example of an Irish medieval painted church interior.

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Clare Island: Ice ages and climate change

Peter Coxon brilliantly outlines the effects of ice ages and climate change on Clare Island and describes how these have shaped its remarkably diverse landscape.

Assembling the home team: from A.G. More to R.I.I. Praeger

Declan Doogue unravels the influences and players in Irish natural history field studies from A.G. More to the present day.

Talks from the Heron-Allen Society

Edward Heron-Allen gives a lively first-hand account of his time working on the Clare Island Survey in his journals. John Whittaker of the Heron-Allen Society discusses the journals and the memorabilia that Heron-Allen collected during his work on the Survey.

Clare Island - the record of a 600-million year assembly line

Clare Island's dramatic and diverse landscape shows the evidence of 6000 million years of climate change. John Graham tells this fascinating story.

Robert Lloyd Praeger and the Darwinian revolution

Ulster naturalists long sought to gain an insight into the nature of God through the study of nature. Greta Jones looks at how Darwin's theories affected Praeger and influenced his work.

Participants, papers and progress 1909-11: Participants, papers and progress

Timothy Collins discusses the workers on the first survey of Clare Island, the wonderful mix of professionals and amateurs from Ireland and overseas that Praeger brought together and managed so brilliantly.


Speaker biographies:


Conleth Manning studied Archaeology and Early Irish History at UCD, where he also did an MA in Archaeology. He is a senior archaeologist in the National Monuments Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. He has studied and directed excavations at many national monuments in Ireland, including Cashel, Clonmacnoise, Dublin Castle, Roscrea Castle and Glanworth Castle and has written and lectured on many aspects of Ireland's archaeological heritage. Conleth Manning is co-editor of two volumes in the New Survey of Clare Island Series: New Survey of Clare Island Volume 4: The Abbey and New Survey of Clare Island Volume 5: Archaeology. He is a past president of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Mr Manning is Secretary of the New Survey of Clare Island Committee.   


Peter Coxon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography. a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He is currently the Secretary-General of the International Union of Quaternary Research (INQUA - ) and the Chairperson of the Irish Quaternary Association (IQUA - ). After completing a PhD on 'Pleistocene environmental history in East Anglia' at the Sub-Department of Quaternary Research at the University of Cambridge, he took up a lectureship at TCD in 1979. His interests in the Irish landscape were strongly influenced by a close working relationship with the late Frank Mitchell. His current research includes analysing Irish landscape evolution during the Tertiary and Quaternary, Tertiary and Quaternary biostratigraphy, vegetational history and biogeography of Ireland, glacial and periglacial geomorphology and the analysis of flood events and mass movements in Ireland. In addition to an active interest in the geomorphology and vegetational history of western Ireland, his recent research has included mapping large-scale Pleistocene flood events and glacial limits in the Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh and in Ladakh, northern India. He has published on a range of Quaternary topics and has reviewed much of his Irish work in Charles Holland and Ian Sanders' 2nd edition of The Geology of Ireland (2009). Peter Coxon was author of the chapter "The Quaternary history of Clare Island" in New Survey of Clare Island Volume 2: Geology and is co-author of a chapter on the Holocene vegetation of the island in the forthcoming volume in the series New Survey of Clare Island Volume 7: Vegetation. 


Declan Doogue is the Honorary Vice-President of the Dublin Natuiralists' Field Club and has served as its President for three separate periods. He is also an Honorary Life Member of the Botanical Society of the British Isles and a Fellow of the Linnean Society and has recently been appointed an Honorary Research Fellow of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. His main botanical interests include the Flora of Kildare project, where he is BSBI recorder ,and he is currently working, with others, on the revision of H. C. Hart's 1887 work, The Flora of Howth. More recently he has commenced research on several critical genera particularly Rosa, Rubus and Taraxacum. His PhD thesis was concerned with the botanical composition of Leinster hedgerows. He has been deeply involved with the promotion of distribution studies on the Irish flora and fauna and the subsequent interpretation of these distributions patterns in historical and geographical contexts. To this end he has organised a number of botanical recording projects on behalf of the DNFC and also coordinated the Republic of Ireland section of the recent BSBI survey of the New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. He has an on-going involvement with training and encouraging many of the expert bona-fide naturalists who generate these major data sets. More recently he worked to advance the skills of the biological recording community to the point where its accumulated knowledge and experience can find recognition and relevance in modern Ireland in areas such as habitat conservation and species protection. To this end he is fronting a project to foster identification and fieldwork skills in the study of Bryophytes and continues to be associated with a number of the biological distribution recording schemes initiated by the original Irish Biological Records Centre of An Foras Forbartha. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy's Praeger Committee.   


John Whittaker, former head of micropalaeontology at the Natural History Museum, is a member of the The Heron-Allen Society Committee. He is an honorary member of the Micropalaeontological Society (awarded to members who have made an outstanding contribution to The Society) and is one of the world's leading micropalaeontologists.


John R. Graham is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Geology at Trinity College, Dublin. He was educated at the University of Manchester and the University of Exeter and lectured for five years at Plymouth Polytechnic (now the University of Plymouth before joining TCD in 1978. He was elected Fellow of the college in 1985 and currently lectures in sedimentology, stratigraphy and aspects of Irish geology. He has worked on sedimentological aspects of rocks varying from Ordovician to Carboniferous age in many parts of western Ireland from West Cork to Donegal. Professor Graham is the editor of New Survey of Clare Island Volume 2: Geology.


Greta Jones has taught at the University of Ulster since 1976; having previously been a research associate at the University of Leicester. Her doctoral research was published as 'Social Darwinism and English Thought' (Harvester, 1980) and was the key to the award of a Mellon Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania 1982-3. During this fellowship she completed Social Hygiene in Twentieth Century Britain (Croom Helm, 1986). Greta also held the Morris Ginsberg Fellowship at the London School of Economics in 1986 when she finished another book, Science, Politics and the Cold War (Routledge, 1988). She was visiting fellow at Corpus Christi College Cambridge in 1990. Her research has been recognized with the award of major grants from external sources, including the Wellcome Trust for the History of Medicine and the Nuffield Foundation. Greta was formerly Member of the editorial board of Social History of Medicine. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society Greta's primary research interests are two principal areas: nineteenth- and twentieth-century cultural and intellectual history, particularly Darwinism; and the history of science and medicine in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 2006, in conjunction with University College Dublin, she was awarded a major grant from the Wellcome Trust in 2006 to set up the Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland, based at the Jordanstown campus. This involves a five-year programme of appointments and research activities to promote the subject. Her most recent work in the history of medicine in Ireland is a study of medical migration to and from Ireland 1860-1960.


Timothy Collins is a chartered librarian in the James Hardiman Library, National University of Ireland, Galway. A graduate in the marine sciences, he has kept up his interest in the subject by researching, lecturing and publishing a significant number of books and papers on the history and bibliography of Irish science, particularly natural history. His researches led to his election as a Fellow of the Library Association in 1981, only the fifth Irish person to be so honoured by the Association in its 140 year history. Since 1992 Tim has devoted much of his spare time working as Director of the Centre for Landscape Studies in NUI, Galway. Tim's first book Floreat Hibernia: a bio-bibliography of Robert Lloyd Praeger 1865 - 1953, was published by the Royal Dublin Society in 1985 and is still accepted as the standard work of reference on Praeger. Recently published work includes Transatlantic triumph and heroic failure, a study of the shortlived Galway Steamship Line (Cork: Collins Press, 2002); and an edited collection of papers entitled Decoding the landscape: contributions towards a synthesis of thinking in Irish studies on the landscape (Galway: Centre for Landscape Studies, 2002), now in its third edition owing to its continuing popularity as a primer in Irish Studies as well as Landscape Studies. He is currently researching a maritime history of the west of Ireland, and a biography of Dick Dowling, Tuam-born hero of Confederate Texas.

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