W.B. Yeats once said that it was his ambition that we would regard our local landscape as exciting. He was, of course, talking about the quartzite mountain, the limestone-floored lake or the sandstone ridge. But he meant much more than that. Is a warm hillside in summer the same as when it suffers a dark wintry storm? Surely our perceptions are shaped as much by our emotional response as by a hill's physical make up. The geologist may have mastery of the rock, but it is the poet who opens our minds to a more inclusive understanding. In this fascinating study, geologist Peadar McArdle shows how Patrick Kavanagh creates the link between Monaghan's steep drumlins and the harsh parsimony of its people. The warm nostalgia of Oliver Goldsmith's Auburn may find its origins in the Midland's rich farmland. Bogs were for long considered the domain of the backward, but now, thanks partly to Seamus Heaney's enriching insights, their image has been transformed to that of a cherished habitat. Louis MacNeice thought that Belfast's dour basalt reflected the character of that city's Protestants and, further south, W.B.
Yeats considered that his childhood limestone influenced the simple charms of its inhabitants. This captivating county-by-county exploration will deepen and enhance our appreciation of Ireland's remarkable landscape and the impact it has had on Irish history and culture.