H aving moved to Northern Ireland from Liverpool several years ago, Dominic Kearney has fully embraced his new home and its culture. He has written for a variety of publications and is a contributor to a number of arts programmes on Radio Ulster.
His sense of humour and his enthusiasm for learning as much as he can about his new surroundings has also led to him becoming one of the most entertaining and best-read food critics in Northern Ireland.
Dominic Kearney, who now lives in Londonderry, has obviously fallen in love with the north of Ireland.
Author of the highly regarded crime novel, Cast Iron Men, he has turned his talent to sharing some of his travels with us, in the form of a new book that highlights the bountiful riches of the nine counties of Ulster.
Ireland’s Beautiful North, which was recently launched at Eason’s bookstore in Londonderry, records the wonders of these beautiful counties, and explores the many myths and mysteries that seamlessly merge with history to make Irish counties so unique. Then there are the geological and geographical features that have made Ireland a popular attraction for film-makers and attract a growing number of tourists – such as the Giant’s Causeway, the Dark Hedges and the Wild Atlantic Way.
As well as being written with the expertise and descriptive powers of a novelist, the book is peppered with superb images of stunning scenery, thanks to the expert eye of Carsten Krieger, a professional photographer based in the west of Ireland.
Ireland’s Beautiful North begins with an introduction that takes the reader on a short tour of the geography, history and culture of the province of Ulster. “It is a land of turbulent geography and turbulent times. Drama and dispute, laughter, loss, and literature - all are here, in every stone, beneath every footstep,” writes the author.
The literary tour of Ulster is divided into chapters on eight broadly geographical regions - Belfast; Glens of Antrim and Causeway Coastal Route; Derry-Londonderry and Inishowen; Wild North-West Donegal and South-west Donegal; Tyrone, the Sperrins, the Lakelands, and Monaghan; North Armagh; The Mournes and the Ring of Gullian; Downpatrick and North Down.
It says of the Glens of Antrim: “Walkers, anglers, and nature lovers, photographers, writers, and artists are all drawn here, many staying in the towns and villages that punctuate the Glens, such as Glenarm, Carnlough, Waterfoot (Glenariff), Cushendall, Cushendun, and Ballycastle.”
Like former Month Python member and globe-trotter, Michael Palin, Dominic Kearney raves about the beauty of the railway journey between Londonderry and Coleraine.
“The railway journey between Derry-Londonderry and Coleraine is renowned for its beauty and variety. At one end, the River Foyle expands into its broad, sometimes mournful lough, while, at the other, sailboats bob on the Bann as it flows through Coleraine. Between the two, the gentle lowlands around Bellarena fall under the shadow of the towering plateau of Binevenagh, and long, empty beaches greet powerful waves before and after the train is swallowed by tunnels blasted through fierce cliffs,” he informs us.
The book is packed with details about many areas of interest - some famous and some less well-known that they ought to be, given the way in which they have been described and photographed.
Ireland’s Beautiful North will become a must-have guide for tourists - but it should also be appreciated by those of us who live here.
Those of us who travel regularly through some of the world’s most stunning scenery can often be blinded to its beauty. Sometimes, it takes a different type of insight to open our eyes again so that we can truly appreciate what lies on our doorstep. And that’s what Dominic Kearney has done with this wonderful book.
Ireland’s Beautiful North is published by The O’Brien Press and is available in Eason’s and all good bookshops.