Exploring the history and heritage of Irish landscapes

Patrick J. Duffy

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ISBN: 978-1-85182-965-1
July 2007. 264pp; ills.

‘This must be basic reading for all who are seriously interested in local history’, DLC, Dublin Historical Record.

'I found Exploring the History and Heritage of the Ireland’s Landscapes, by geographer Patrick Duffy, a treasure trove of insights and information about both the material manifestations of Ireland’s landscapes and their metaphorical dimensions, since all places are saturated with different meanings and memories,' William J. Smyth, Irish Times Books of the Year 2007.

'[W]hether it be folklore, place-names, memoirs or diaries, Duffy has something useful to say and guidance to offer. Many of the supporting references with regard to imaging, painting and photography will surely be new to the majority of readers ... Patrick Duffy is to be congratulated on writing this excellent addition to the series. It will undoubtedly be an indispensable aid to future landscape and local historians,' Robin Glasscock, Landscape History (2007).

‘In a timely fashion, in our global age, what this book sets out to do is release the story of the local. Quite simply it succeeds. It memorably describes what has and is still happening to this country in the name of development as a form of “landscape trauma”. There is truly wisdom to be found within these pages and such is its success that I was only infrequently reminded that I was reading an academic treatise. Indeed, this work virtually writes its own review when it states that “writing as art can put flesh on bald facts and enliven bare statistics”. It certainly does that … this book is a quite wonderful distillation of ideas, learning and knowledge that transcends the constraints of hidebound academia', Books Ireland (November 2007).

'This book is divided into two parts: Components in the making of the landscape, and Approaches to the study of the landscape. The conceptual structure of the book is, therefore, very good — recognising the landscape is product in two senses, in its material manifestations and metaphorically, saturated with different meanings and memories ... Patrick Duffy is very sensitive to the diversity of perspectives we can bring to bear on landscapes. And his reading and the breadth of reference is phenomenal. The extensive footnotes on each page all confirm this—they are a revelation and so helpful to all of us, rendering a great service to local historians everywhere but also to his colleagues in archaeology, anthropology, geography, history and folklore ... As usual, the Four Courts Press has done a very good job and the book is greatly enhanced by the superb maps and illustrations from Jim Keenan’s hand. There is a brilliant map of the townlands of County Wicklow overlain on Wicklow’s rugged topography (p. 69). There are a host of highly original maps like that of the geographical spread of rural electrification in 1952 (p. 152), a map based on the ESB archives at Harold’s Cross. And this is just one example of the thousands of guidelines that the author provides regarding source-materials and repositories. The book is a treasure-trove of such insights and information. It also reveals the author’s wide sympathies, both culturally and aesthetically ... Every page of the book is full of striking insights ... Equally every page of the book is full of quotable quotes', William J. Smyth, Irish Economic and Social History (Winter 2008).

In this masterly work, Professor Duffy has achieved the relatively rare feat of writing an engaging and highly readable book which is also of the highest academic caliber. This twelfth volume in the Maynooth series of research guides will undoubtedly become an essential guide for those engaged in local history studies, but given the breadth and interest of its subject matter it deserves a much wider readership … the publication of this book is timely because the recent transformation of Ireland’s landscape is, in the words of the author, “generating a form of landscape amnesia, where the connection with the previous remembered landscape is broken”’, Ruth McManus, Studia Hibernica (2008/9).

'… Surveys natural and cultural landscapes and the built environment, the representation of the Irish landscape in art and literature and the effect of population densities, all of which contribute to our understanding of 21st century Ireland.' Mary O’Sullivan, Ireland of the Welcomes (January/February 2008).

'Dr Duffy’s book demonstrates his passion about the importance of landscape to our lives. He understands how fundamental it is to our “identities”, and how knowledge of place and landscape is an essential part “of the human experience of growing-up and belonging', Dr Marie Bourke, Museum Ireland.