The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

Read more about the RIA

Clare Island

by  John Feehan
€ 40.00

Book Details

Published by Royal Irish Academy

September 2019


Number of pages: 320

ISBN: 9781911479130


PDF icon Advance Information

“Few places on Earth, and none elsewhere in Ireland, have yielded such a concentrated inventory of knowledge about the natural world.” Michael Viney

One hundred years ago, Irish naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger led a survey of the natural history and cultural heritage of Clare Island at a level of detail greater than any area of comparable size at that time. Almost a century later, the Royal Irish Academy set about repeating the exercise with the intention of assessing and evaluating change on the island over the intervening years. 

In this book John Feehan distils the results of the two great surveys with elegance and enthusiasm to shine a spotlight on the richness of life surviving on Clare Island. In easy, affectionate prose Feehan interweaves the natural and cultural heritage of the island and shares his wider ecological knowledge to help us understand the role each species plays in the life of this remarkable place.

Read the foreword by Michael Viney here.


'The book is couched in everyday narrative language. Distilling the findings of both RIA surveys, it weaves the island’s human heritage and future with the changes in the island’s natural world. Clare Island, a large-format paperback [...], is by ecologist John Feehan, author of important and readable books on wild plants, Ireland’s bogs and farming history. His easy prose is interleaved with the book’s rich and often fascinating illustration'. Michael Viney, The Irish Times, 05/10/2019. Read the full review here.

'The term "leaving no stone unturned" could have been coined for this book such is its meticulous attention to detail in what was effectively a living laboratory. Its sweep is all-inclusive: from its geologic formation to the grinding power of the glaciers and the types of soils deposited. Feehan dons his metaphorical wellies and delves into what seems like every mini-bay, rockpool, stream and lake; He brings his microscopic eye to the first inhabitants of the island, their ways of life and the structures they left behind them'. Dan MacCarthy, Irish Examiner, 10/11/2019. Read the full review here.


About the authors

John Feehan

John Feehan was for over twenty years a senior lecturer in UCD’s School of Agriculture and Food Science, from which he has recently retired. He is well known for his award-winning television work on the natural and cultural heritage of the Irish landscape. His many books include the definitive textbook on Ireland's peatlands, the widely acclaimed Farming in Ireland: History, Heritage and Environment, The Wildflowers of Offaly as well as several books on the geology, environmental heritage and history of the Midlands. He has been described by Michael Viney as ‘one of Ireland’s top ecologists and communicators of nature’.