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Reading the Irish Landscape [Paperback]

Frank Mitchell , Michael Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Town House; 3rd Revised edition edition (Mar 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860590551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860590559
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 17 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 186,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Frank Mitchell and Michael Ryan have successfully undertaken the task of giving in one book the story of the shaping of the land from the beginning of time until now, by all the varying forces of nature, sea, climate, man and machine. The story takes in the shaping of the crust, the movement of glaciers, the first men and their primitive agriculture, their buildings and their effects on the forests, the growth of bogs, new migrations, the rise of the monasteries of the Early Christians and the castles of conquest, the devastation of war, urban growth, modern agriculture and afforestation, all set against the backdrop of the landscape, arguably one of Ireland's most precious resources.

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5.0 out of 5 stars The Irish landscape interpreted 12 Jan 2011
By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER
This book comes to the reader garlanded with praise, and it is well deserved. First published inthe 1980s, and revised several times since, it predates most of the books on the British landscape which have recently found a wide readership.

The authors seek to produce a total insight which synthesises geology, geography and archaeology, with botany and zoology also covered to an extent. Remarkably, they shed stiumulating light on many aspects of the subject by comparisons with parallels elsewhere in the world; thus an early painting of aboriginal fishing in New South Wales, and an early 20th century photo of drying fish in Newfoundland, are set alongside a photograph of Aran Islanders launching a curragh. With this cross-disciplinary approach, technical language is both necessary and problematic; the solution constantly striven for is to keep jargon to a minimum and to define specialist terms as they arise in the text. To a large extent this works; the book can be read by the intelligent lay reader without constant referal to glossaries.

The later section takes the reader through the effect of human activity on the landscape from prehistory to the present day, in a survey well-illustrated with aerial photos and contemporary prints.

However, make no mistake; this is not a light read. It is a good deal heavier going than, for instance History Of The Countryside. It is a book to read in small stages, with pauses for digestion. Maps, diagrams and photos embedded in the text - most of them very high quality - help the understanding along.

Who will enjoy this book? Anyone from Ireland or with an Irish background, obviously.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the view from an Irish tour bus 23 Aug 2010
By Neal Jordan - Published on
Verified Purchase
Geomorphology is that part of Geology that deals with the appearance of the surface of the Earth and makes traveling a continuous delight as you understand what you are seeing and how it got that way. The authors of "Reading the Irish Landscape" have added, in lay terms, to Geomorphology the relevant parts of Anthropology, Climatology, Palynology, and History, to equip the reader/tourist to better understand what he/she is seeing in the Irish countryside, towns, and cities. How do the mountains in the east differ from those in the west? Why is farming so difficult in the west, and how do the ubiquitous blanket bogs form and control farming? Where did the ring forts and the variety of ancient tombs come from, and when? What has caused Irish forests to wax and wane over the centuries? How has a few degrees shift in annual temperature shifted Ireland from feast to famine, and why is that so fragile a balance? How could anyone gag down 6 to 8 pounds of potatoes a day, and thrive and multiply? What was the Vikings main contribution to Ireland beyond red hair and blue eyes?
If you are willing to wade through a few too many pages, answers to these questions are given with a wealth of photos and illustrations. It is best read ahead of traveling through Ireland, but it will be of interest to anyone who is or has been there, or is just curious about what makes Ireland and the Irish tick.
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