I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized A Sharp Eye in the Wild

A Sharp Eye in the Wild

Seán Lysaght
Diary of a Young Naturalist, by Dara McAnulty, Little Toller Books, 224 pp, £16, ISBN: 978-1908213792 Dara McAnulty first came to public notice about three years ago as a blogger writing about nature and conservation from his home in Fermanagh; at the time he was particularly keen on protecting hen harriers, a species of special concern both in Ireland and the UK because of development and persecution pressures. Since that time, Dara has become an important voice for his generation as a teenager who is passionate about the natural world and its place in the well-being of our society generally. His activism on behalf of the living world has coincided with a wider youth movement, including “Extinction Rebellion” and the Schools Strike for Climate Action; in partnership with the broadcaster Chris Packham, he has worked to highlight the role of nature in mental health for young people, not just for those with autism, a condition he shares with his mother and his two siblings. All of these interests and issues come together in Dara’s first book, Diary of a Young Naturalist, which is now published by Little Toller Books of Dorset, a company specialising in writing about the natural world. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the Diary was timely, given the pressures faced by our planet from climate change, extinction and degradation; but with current restrictions on travel and movement, and a new sense of the living world on our doorstep, this book carries a powerful message for our times. The political arguments are clear, and powerfully articulated: after an Extinction Rebellion rally in London at which he was a speaker, Dara notes, “Our world is increasingly divided between attainment, materialism and self-analysis. We’re at a tipping point in the relationship we have with ourselves, each other and our world. A world which is so intricately connected, so interdependent, so intrinsically linked.” At this point, noting that the writer was fifteen when he wrote this, and has now just passed his sixteenth birthday, it is easy to indulge in a patronising round of congratulation for “one so young”. But Dara and others such as Greta Thunberg are steeled against this, and they demand a place at the table where policies and plans are implemented. “We hand over our hearts,” he writes, “beating on a platter, for nothing. At least nothing tangible.” The passion and outrage that drive this writing are not general or…

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