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The Island Imagined by the Sea: A History of Bull Island, by Kieran McNally

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The Island Imagined by the Sea: A History of Bull Island, by Kieran McNally

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A fascinating history of Dublin's Bull Island.



In 1820, an island appeared from the sea. In Dublin Bay, right under the noses of Dubliners. Within years of its appearance a nearby island called Clontarff Island disappeared. There were several other islands, including one known as Sand Island and another called Green Island, but they too disappeared. A fisherman, a woman out walking and a number of others then also disappeared.

This work is a history of Dublin's Bull Island, which lies just off Clontarf and is believed to have existed for less than 200 years. The book is a weave of social, ecological and personal history. The social component covers items such as notable shipwrecks, plundering, some prehistory (the Battle of Clontarf), Captain Bligh, James Joyce's ‘bird girl’, the island’s many tragic suicides and one or two murders.

As Bull Island is an internationally famous bird sanctuary and nature reserve, the text covers the emergence of the island’s bird life, its rich botany, the various historic threats to the island’s ecology and the efforts of environmental activists and conservationists. On a personal note, the author describes an accident on the island in which a broken ankle led to a life-threatening blood clot.

The book concludes by suggesting that Bull Island’s ecological problems are a useful symbol for what is happening in our world. There is much we can learn from this island imagined by the sea.

About the Author

Kieran McNally is an Irish writer and historian who has written on the history of medicine in journals such as History of Psychology, History of the Human Sciences, and History and Psychiatry. He lives in Clontarf, Dublin.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Author McNallly, Kieran
Editor No
Print Format Paperback
ISBN-10 No
ISBN-13 9781908308580
Illustrations B&W illustrations
Date of Publication May 22, 2014
Number of Pages 208

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