Birds have been part of our culture and folklore from very early times but there is more to them than the ‘wran’ boys and the Children of Lir. In Irish mythology, birds were sometimes seen as omens, and there were countless beliefs, proverbs and curses associated with them: we believed cuckoos turned into hawks, woodcock holidayed on the moon and some birds grew on trees.
Birds inspired poets such as Gerard Manley Hopkins, W. B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney and they influenced place names like the Curlew Mountains in Roscommon and Hawk’s Nest, County Antrim. Even their own names are rich and full of meaning – the Irish for starling is druid, the dotteral is known as Amadán Móinteach which means ‘bog idiot’ and the dunnock was called Máthair Chéile which translates as ‘mother-in-law’. A unique companion to bird-identification reference books, Birds of Ireland focuses on our interaction with birds, wild, domesticated and extinct.
Glynn Anderson identifies over 150 birds of Ireland, giving each name (in Irish and English) and its meaning, a description and associated beliefs, myths, legends, weather lore, culinary traditions and place names. Each entry ends with a ‘Facts & Figures’ section, such as species numbers in Ireland, where it is common and its longevity. Beautifully illustrated with full-colour illustrations of all birds this is a rewarding treasure trove for bird lovers and general readers alike.