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Shelfmarks with Jane Clarke

21 October 2021

In episode 3 of Shelfmarks, Zoë Comyns looks at the immense work done by Robert Lloyd Praeger and welcomes poet Jane Clarke.

Shelfmarks is a podcast by the Royal Irish Academy podcaster-in-residence Zoë Comyns. Every other week Zoë will sift through the Academy collection for Shelfmarks (biographies, manuscripts, books and reference from the collection) and invite a guest writer to discuss their own relationship with the natural world. Writers include Amanda Bell, Kerri Ní Dhochartaigh, Manchán Magan, Siobhán Mannion, Jane Clarke and Neil Hegarty. Each writer has been specially commissioned to write pieces exploring their own relationship with nature.

Shelfmarks goes live on Sundays and episodes are available on SoundCloudSpotify and Apple Podcasts.


This week on Shelfmarks Zoë Comyns tries to get a sense of the immense work done by Robert Lloyd Praeger. From his early days in Co. Down, tramping through the Mourne Mountains to the thousands of miles he walked across Ireland studying botanics, to his contribution to 800 publications and his 24 books RL Praeger is probably considered Ireland’s most influential naturalist. 

Zoë’s guest this week on Shelfmarks is poet Jane Clarke. Jane grew up in Co Roscommon and came to writing after a career in psychotherapy. She moved to Wicklow almost 25 years ago and Zoë visited her there in her home and took a walk up a lane known as Fairy Lane or Lousy Land and listeners will hear two specially commissioned poems about her neighbour and quarrymen. 

You can read more about Jane Clarke on her website.

To write this episode Zoë read The Way that I Went and A Populous Solitude by Robet Lloyd Praeger, Irish Topographical Botany and the Clare Island Survey, as well as the invaluable biography of Praeger The Life of a Naturalist by Sean Lysaght published by Four Courts Press. She also read A Farrington's obituary of Praeger in the Irish Naturalist Journal, Vol 11 (1954).  

The readings in this episode are by Declan Brennan. 

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