The Evolution of Ireland

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STEPHEN DALY A NEW BOOK PROJECT

SUMMARY & SNEAK PREVIEW

CROWDFUNDINGCAMPAIGN NOVEMBER 2014


Did you know? split

Ireland was once into northern and southern halves, each belonging to different continents separated by thousands of kilometres of ocean? The island has been populated by everything from giant insects to dinosaurs to mammoths The ancient megalithic tomb Newgrange is over 500 years older than the Great Pyramids of Giza There was once an Irish messiah Lenin spoke English with a Dublin accent The Celts probably never invaded Ireland (but the Romans may have) Irish republicans invaded Not only was St. Patrick probably not Canada in 1866 brought to Ireland as a slave but he may have The 'Black Irish' of actually been a slave trader himself Montserrat still spoke Brazil may indirectly Irish as recently as 100 owe its name to the years ago Irish scientists established the disciplines Half of Iceland’s women Irish monk St. Brendan of modern chemistry and seismology, proved and a quarter of its men the ‘greenhouse effect’, split the atom, and have Gaelic Irish DNA even discovered why the sky is blue


In this decade of centenaries We are rightfully taking the time to reflect on our recent past and grasping the opportunity to question many of our preconceptions and assumptions about the origins of modern Ireland. However, we should also seize this moment to look beyond recent centuries and explore the true nature of Ireland’s deeper origins. Who are the Irish and where did they come from? What are the origins of Ireland’s language, music and art, and what were those historical forces which saw the Irish scattered to the four corners of the world? What is the island itself and how was it created? And what do we truly know about the life which has inhabited Ireland in both ancient and modern times?

Now is the time to tell the complete story of Ireland


The Aim of the book is to explore two key questions:

What is Ireland? and

Who are the Irish?

The Book

charts the island’s beginnings as part of a chain of volcanic islands almost two billion years ago, to the land we know today. It explains how Ireland was created from two separate halves, the evolution of its plants and animals, as well as the emergence of a distinct Irish culture, language, and history, and the impact of the Irish worldwide. By drawing on the latest discoveries in geology, the fossil record, human genetics, as well linguistic, archaeological and historical research, this book will present a vision of the past which is fluid and dynamic, providing a complete story that goes far beyond the usual focus on recent centuries, allowing us to connect the island’s ancient past with the present day. The book will be written in two parts.



Part One of the book will cover a vast time span. Chapters One and Two explore everything from the beginnings of Ireland as a land and the origins of its life right up to around 30 million years ago in the middle of our current 'Age of Mammals'. Chapter 3 is mostly concerned with human evolution, from the origins of primates up to the arrival of the first humans in Ireland 10,000 years ago, while Chapters 4 and 5 trace the evolution of Ireland from the time of these earliest settlers all the way up to the beginning of the Middle Ages, when Christianity first took hold in the fourth and fifth centuries AD. Essentially, these three later chapters will demonstrate, first, what it is to be human and, then, trace the origins of those behaviours and customs which can be said to be unique to Ireland, and which formed the bedrock of Irish culture and society.

The creation of Ireland The origins of Life Human evolution Ireland’s earliest settlers to the Middle Ages Origins of Irish language, culture and society The arrival of Christianity


Part Two Invasions The Irish worldwide Social developments The making of today’s culture Modernisation and recent history The future of the island

will trace the development of Ireland from the beginning of the Middle Ages right up to the present day and beyond. Great historical events such as the invasions of the Vikings, the Normans, and the English will be dealt with but so too will be social developments on the island, from the changing position of women, children and the elderly over the centuries to the impact of the widespread availability of tea in the nineteenth century, the electrification of rural Ireland in the 1930s and the introduction of television in the 1960s. Another major theme in Part Two will be the impact of the Irish worldwide, with the Irish scattered to the four winds as invaders, missionaries, exiles, emigrants and slaves. Finally, the last chapter will take a look at Ireland in the future, addressing issues including climate change, the possibility of a united Ireland, and many more.


Contribute An online crowdfunding campaign is currently running for Part One of the book, which allows people to invest in the book project in return for different rewards, including previews of chapters and hard copies of the book. If the book idea appeals to you, help make it a reality. You can contribute as little or as much as you want, until

29 November 2014

The main portal for contributions is through the dedicated project page on the Indiegogo website: www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-evolution-ofireland#home Contributions can also be made by postal order to Stephen Daly | 67 Hybreasal House | South Circular Road | Dublin 8 Please also help to spread the word.

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Visit To Find out More www.theevolutionofireland.com

To Share with Friends and Family www.facebook.com/theevolutionofireland Stephen Daly @EvolutionIre

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From 3-29 November 2014 Stephen will walk from Dublin to Derry Walkabout, visiting key sites of significance to Ireland’s geological, evolutionary, historical and cultural development. If you would like to

meet Stephen during his walk, please contact

tomdaly@theevolutionofireland.com

Get a free

Walkabout Guide at

www.theevolutionofireland.com

Please state: your name your location your area of interest (e.g. history, geology) whether you represent a group

Keep an eye on

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for updates on Stephen’s schedule and the precise time he’ll be arriving at each location


4 weeks , and will involve 4 stages The walk will take

Stage 1 Kilmainham Gaol – Cork City Stage 2 Cork City – Galway City Stage 3 Galway City – Sligo Town Stage 4 Sligo Town – Derry City


Preface


Off the northern shore of a vast continent on the edge of a globe-spanning sea, there is an island. Deep within the northern reaches of the world it lies and yet warm waters lap against its shores, its subtropical climate sustaining the growth of a mighty forest which utterly dominates the landscape, stretching from coast to coast. Strange calls emanate from this forest, the cries of peculiar creatures lurking in the dark undergrowth, while high above unfamiliar forms swoop and glide through the air, casting their long shadows on the canopy below. Most of the inhabitants of this land dwell in the interior, shunning the coastal margins where hardier organisms eke out a perilous existence in the face of the frequent onslaughts of ferocious storms, their brutal winds whipping and churning the sea into a frenzy and lashing the shore without mercy. This is a land without a name, for the simple reason that there is noone left to speak it, the last human having long since drawn one final breath. This is Ireland, 250 million years from now.

Much will have changed in that time. The continents, moving a little slower than the speed at which human fingernails grow, will eventually collide to form one colossal landmass – a supercontinent called Pangaea Proxima. This simply means ‘the next Pangaea’; Pangaea, meaning ‘All Land’, being the last supercontinent to exist, which began to split apart around 200 million years ago. The assembly of this monstrous new continent is taking place right now and over the next 50 million years and beyond will dramatically alter the face of our planet. Africa will continue its present journey northwards, crashing into southern Europe, closing the Mediterranean Sea and thrusting up a mountain range of Himalayan proportions in its place, running from Spain across southern Europe and into Asia. Eurasia will also rotate clockwise as a result of this collision until Ireland rests at a latitude roughly equivalent to that of Iceland today, while Iceland

itself will be no more, long consigned to the deep after being ripped in two by the widening Atlantic. Australia, which has already begun to impinge upon the southern islands of southeast Asia, will also maintain its northward drift until its left shoulder gets caught, causing it to rotate towards Borneo and south China, eventually ploughing into their coasts to become an immense new province of Asia. North and South America will initially move away from Africa and Europe as the Atlantic Ocean widens. However, at some point between 200 and 250 million years in the future, this process will be reversed, resulting, ultimately, in the swift closure of the Atlantic and the titanic collision of the Americas with the merged EuroAfrican continent, driving up yet more gargantuan mountain ranges along the impact zone. This epic encounter will also create an inland sea as the eastern coast of South America docks with the the now globally-extensive Pacific. In this manner, then, a new world will be created: a vast, doughnut-shaped supercontinent extending from


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This is a land without a name, for the simple reason that there is noone left to speak it, the last human having long since drawn one final breath. This is Ireland, 250 million years from now.

ËŽ


western coast of Antarctica, which by now will have completed a long trek northwards from the southern polar regions, forming a continuous landmass connected to Asia in the east, separat-ing the remnants of the Indian Ocean from the now globally-extensive Pacific. In this manner, then, a new world will be created: a vast, doughnut-shaped supercontinent extending from Patagonia in the south to Spain in the north, and from Alaska in the west to Siberia in the east. Ireland, it seems, may be one of the few places to escape the clutches of this continental behemoth. Depending on sea levels and the possible rise or fall of its surface due to this great continental re-organisation, the surrounding waters may not fall to the point that the continental shelf to the south and east of Ireland, which is today concealed under shallow seas, would be exposed, saving the island from becoming a small continental peninsula. That is not to say, of course, that Ireland’s coastline would resemble the one we are so familiar with today. A different balance between

land and sea would mean that the island could be much smaller or bigger, the locations of the present-day coastal cities of Cork, Galway, Dublin and Belfast residing either under the sea or kilometres inland. Ireland’s life-forms will almost certainly benefit from the island’s escape from incorporation into Pangaea Proxima, as the formation of this supercontinent will herald a disaster for life on this planet. In the sea, the loss of suitable habitats due to the merging of continental coastlines–and the consequent disruption of global ocean current systems–will lead to a reduction in the resources available, increased competition and, inevitably, mass extinction. On land, the amalgamation of continental blocks will be followed by the formation of one of the greatest deserts in the Earth’s history; a band of desolation stretching from northern Canada into central Africa and on into the heart of Asia. This will destroy many different habitats, with obvious repercussions for

the survival of many species. Warmer ocean surface waters could also produce planet-racking storms called ‘hypercanes’ spanning thousands of kilometres; the devastating winds of these superhurricanes unleashing their fury on the landscape at speeds of more than 400 kilometres an hour. Needless to say, these howling maelstroms would sound the death knell for many fragile creatures. What will Ireland actually be like this far into the future? Well, firstly, we would not recognise much of the wildlife. Looking to the sky we may see winged figures darting here and there but these would not be readily identifiable to our eyes as birds will most likely have suffered extinction by this time, ceding their aerial domain to the newer products of evolution just as ancient flying reptiles had ceded it to them. The ‘Age of Mammals’ will also most likely have come to an end, their demise opening up opportunities for other classes of animals to exploit. So, no more horses, cattle, sheep; no more mice, rats or bats; and, of course, no more humans. Human extinct-


“

A different balance between land and sea would mean that the island could be much smaller or bigger, the locations of the presentday coastal cities of Cork, Galway, Dublin and Belfast residing either under the sea or kilometres inland.

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ion may be caused by anything from disease or war to asteroid impacts or a catastrophic volcanic episode. In any case, after many millions of years, the only evidence that humans ever walked the Earth will likely amount to no more than a few enigmatic fossils buried deep below the surface. At the surface itself, natural processes will steadily expose the absurdity of man’s pretensions to permanence. Surging hordes of root and branch will swiftly overrun the citadels of concrete and glass while, over longer ages, the relentless forces of weathering and erosion will grind the mightiest of structures to dust, tectonic forces will buckle steel and split stone and cause new mountains to rise, shrugging off the thin skin of human civilisation. New rivers and lakes will drain this landscape, carrying the sediment of weathered mountains which, added to the rotting remains of countless animals and plants, will bury the last vestiges of human existence under a sea of decay. Ironically, the greatest monuments to man’s presence on Earth will not even reside on the planet

itself, but a quarter of a million miles away on the surface of the moon. Here, on the Sea of Tranquility, the few artefacts and footprints left by the lunar landings should remain in almost pristine condition due to the still, deathly dry surroundings. They will stand as a testament to a short but fascinating episode in the evolution of the Earth when one species rose to dominate all others, its members managing to exploit the resources of the planet for their own ends, eventually casting their gaze outwards to the heavens, seeking deeper answers to the questions of their existence than the Earth could possibly yield. So, 250 million years from now, Ireland, shorn of its human dimensions – its political, social, economic and cultural identities – will have reverted to a simpler state. No longer a territory but a habitat. However, it is precisely these human aspects, for good or for bad, that make Ireland what it is today. Human activities determine much of the physical arrangement of the landscape, them and will continue to exist long after they are gone. For that simple reason, any account of the evolution of Ireland must not begin with the

from the layout of fields and the locations of towns and cities to the courses of rivers, and also regulate to a great degree which species of plants and animals are allowed to populate it. Nevertheless, we must never lose sight of the fact that the people of Ireland too are products of the natural world and are essentially guests in a land that has existed, and been inhabited, long before long before them and will continue to exist long after they are gone. For that simple reason, any account of the evolution of Ireland must not begin with the human occupation of the island but with the evolution of the island itself and the life which has come to call it home. To do that we must go back, all the way to the beginning, far beyond the formation of the Earth to the very origins of the universe.

Like what you’ve read? Scan to Like what you’ve read? contribute www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-evolutionof-ireland#home


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So, 250 million years from now, Ireland, shorn of its human dimensions – its political, social, economic and cultural identities – will have reverted to a simpler state. No longer a territory but a habitat. However, it is precisely these human aspects, for good or for bad, that make Ireland what it is today.


About the Author I am a first time author with a background in history and archaeology, and have previously worked as an archaeologist on a number of projects in Ireland.

I would be happy to get your feedback and would like to thank everyone who contributes to the project.

In 2009 I began work on The Evolution of Ireland, which is inspired by my lifelong interest in all aspects of the past, including the history of biological evolution and, in particular, human evolution.

Feel free to e-mail me at stephendaly@theevolutionofireland.com


www.theevolutionofireland.com stephendaly@theevolutionofireland.com Š Stephen Daly 2014


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