The woods of Ireland

A history, 700–1800


Nigel Everett

Paperback €26.95
Catalogue Price: €29.95
ISBN: 978-1-84682-591-0
HBK July 2014 | PBK May 2015. 344pp; colour ills.

‘In this deeply-researched and thought-provoking book Nigel Everett provides a rich and penetrating analysis of the complicated and often controversial history of Irish woods from 700–1800. He transforms our understanding of the political and practical implications of the woods and how these changed over the 1,200 years he covers … The great strength of this book is the way evidence and ideas concerning trees and woodland from diverse sources including political tracts, literary works, estate papers, topographical drawings and paintings, letters and correspondence, legislation and military memoirs are brought together to produce a convincing and very welcome reinterpretation of Irish woodland history … This engrossing and stimulating book is a major contribution to Irish and woodland history. It is very well produced and has some notably fine illustrations … This important book should be purchased by all with an interest in the history of woods and forests and in the social and political history of Ireland’, Charles Watkins, Rural History (2015).

‘This is a scholarly, well-researched work that examine the history of Irish woodland against the backdrop of political upheaval and bias … This is a thorough and penetrating study and is beautifully illustrated with some stunning photographs and plates’, Delia Hooke, Landscape History (2015).

'A fascinating and scholarly book … ten chapters of political, rebellious, social, commercial, designed landscape and woodland history which largely follow the broad sweep of Irish history from the earliest English conquest to the 1798 rebellion … A wide and varied range of primary and secondary sources are used with excellent illustrations … Nigel Everett’s book adds considerably to our knowledge of Ireland’s woodland history and to the question posed by the author as to when the woodlands were denuded and by whom. It is also a valuable reference book for the student of landscape history as well as the art historian', John A. McCullen, Irish Arts Review (Autumn 2014).

'A detailed study which sets out to show that the story is far more complicated than the persistent belief that Ireland "was covered in trees until the English came and chopped them down". The history of the exploitation and regeneration of woodlands is set in the wider international context, with foreign wars necessitating timber for ship building and imports into Ireland as well as valuable exports. In the eighteenth century, demesnes came to play an important role in planting and forest management, and paintings of demesne landscapes feature among the illustrations. An important scholarly book', Mary Davies, The Irish Garden (September 2014).

‘This book is exhaustively researched and lucidly written … Everett provides a detailed, nuanced account of the transformation of the Irish landscape and reveals much about Irish society from the pre-Norman period up to the Act of Union in 1800 … This book is a must for any academic library … Essential’, D.C. Kierdorf, Choice (June 2015). 

‘The Woods of Ireland intends a critical examination of the popular belief that Norman and, especially, Tudor monarchs destroyed extensive early medieval Irish woods in campaigns fueled by intertwined motives of colonial power and capitalist profit … The exemplary collection of a commendably wide variety of early modern documentary, pictorial and cartographic sources, and their meticulous arrangement in a seamless narrative, creates an important resource for future historians’, Susan Oosthuizen, Medieval Archaeology (2016).

‘Nigel Everett has cast a wide net, drawing his material from very diverse fields, from the early annals to eighteenth-century tours and modern historiography. The bibliography is extensive. And the story has resonances in the modern world. Deforestation continues worldwide for the same reasons it once operated in Ireland … Nigel Everett’s definitive study provides fuel for the understanding of [Ireland’s arboreal] heritage’, Mary Davies, History Ireland (Sept/Oct 2015).

‘This book explores the frequently scanty evidence as to how Irish woodland, a great natural resource, was eroded during the medieval and early modern periods … This book takes us through the history of an unsettled period … The author shows how, certainly by the late 17th century, the wealthy and influential busily planted trees to make good the loss, and also notes that the “iron masters”, so often blamed for that loss, “typically failed for reasons more related to inadequate demand and indifferent ores than deficient timber”’, John Akeroyd, Sherkin Comment (2014).

‘Landscape portraits are used to good effect to open another window into woodland and, in particular, demesne history … The book is well-referenced throughout, and Everett has undertaken extensive background research, detailing a wealth of characteristics from Irish woodland history. The index is also very useful … The book will certainly be of use to scholars of woodland and general history for the accounts given and the primary sources included … a brave new addition to the literature on Irish woodlands’, Colin Kelleher, Irish Literary Supplement (Fall 2015). 

‘”Excellent introduction … Everett employs a vast range of primary and secondary resources, including admirable attention to literary authors and philosophers such as Swift, Goldsmith and Burke … The book has a convincing argument and functions well as a landmark revisionist study with plentiful primary sources’, Thomas Herron, Renaissance Quarterly (2016).