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Coastal Atlas of Ireland Shortlisted in An Post Book Awards Category

22nd October 2021
The Coastal Atlas of Ireland involves the work of over 140 contributors
The atlas published by Cork University Press involves the work of over 140 contributors

The Coastal Atlas of Ireland is one of seven titles nominated for An Post’s Best Irish Published Book of the Year.

The atlas published by Cork University Press involves the work of over 140 contributors ranging in expertise from archaeology to zoology.

The publication, weighing almost 5kg and with a StoryMap online element, is edited by Robert Devoy, Val Cummins, Darius Bartlett, Barry Brunt and Sarah Kandrot.

An Post’s Irish Book Awards range across 20 categories, including Novel of the Year, Children’s (Junior and Senior), Cookery, Crime Fiction, Popular Fiction, Nonfiction, Sports, Short Story, Poetry, Teen and Young Adult and Irish Language.

Among the six other titles competing with the Atlas in the Best Irish Published Book of the Year category is Tree Dogs, Banshee Fingers and Other Irish Words for Nature by Manchán Magan, and illustrated by Steve Doogan.

Recently retired head of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark MellettRecently retired head of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett

Speaking at the recent Cork launch of the Atlas, the recently retired head of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, described it as “a survival book not just for you and I, as citizens and civil society in general”.

He also described it as “a foundation of reference for Government and policy”, and “a stimulant for a thousand sustainable ideas enabling market and entrepreneurial spirit to flourish”.

“One of the largest individual waves, at almost 30 metres ever measured by scientific instrument was recorded by the RSS Discovery in the Rockall Trough 200 miles NW of Mayo in February 2000,” he said.

“ I use the story of this wave and its journey as a handrail to touch on some of the content of this Atlas,” he said, noting the wave was measured in a sea transited by Vikings in 800 AD and navigated by St Brendan two centuries earlier on his way to discover America.

Mellett said the Maritime Area Planning Bill will give Ireland a leading edge in implementing the Government’s climate action plan.

He predicted that “the market and industry will help with energy transition, as this is where the risk-takers are, this is where the investment is, with huge talent”.

Referring to the skill sets required for renewable development, Mellett said that “we must be open to systemic innovation”.

“Remembering the market doesn’t always tell the ecological truth,” he said, and “we should remember civil society institutions are our greatest advocates for getting things right”.

“The Sustainable development goals principles referenced in the Atlas are based on the fundamental recognition of humans as an integral part of the ecosystem and central to all processes,” he said.

“ Enabling ecosystem-based management, and development of mechanisms for effective participation requires we must ensure the role of Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (ENGOs) in public participation is respected,” he continued.

“Good ocean governance is built on principles such as authority, accountability, good science, integration, stewardship, subsidiarity, simple rules, sustainability, transparency, timeliness, precaution and rights based,” he said.

He referred to work in the Atlas which points to Ireland having a jurisdiction of almost 1,000,000 square kilometres in which it has sovereignty or sovereign rights.

“Sovereign rights that are not upheld are more imaginary than real. That is why our Naval Service and Defence Forces are key to the State’s security architecture,”he continued.

“ When all is said and done they are part of the bedrock that underpins our sovereignty, part of the framework that uphold the institutions of a civilised society, where people are free, where the institutions of state function, where the vulnerable are protected and where the market and industry can operate,”he said.

“For industries like renewables to work, the sovereign rights of the state need to be translated into property rights for stakeholders – who need a level of certainty to invest,” Mellett said.

“ This is a time to move from having a closed mindset to having an open or growth innovative mindset which is about sharing ideas, technologies and knowledge. Einstein said we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” he said.

“ This is a time for collaboration, building and nurturing diverse networks because nobody has all the answers. In a world where we are physically experiencing climate breakdown and we can see unprecedented biodiversity loss, we can learn from the Pristine Palau case study presented by Val Cummins in the Atlas,” Mellett said.

“ We have security threats the likes of which we have never seen before - at every level, we must collaborate across diverse institutional and organisational boundaries if we are to overcome the most complex challenges,” he said.

“The offshore renewable energy is at a decisive point of opportunity. Opportunities come to pass, not to pause, and we need to be courageous,” Mellett said.

The Coastal Atlas of Ireland, which was the subject of a recent Afloat Wavelengths podcast here, is available in all good bookshops.

Published in Coastal Notes
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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