Cranes in Ireland? A new book explores the little known history of the Eurasian Crane in Ireland

Published by Ian Carey on

November 4th 2016

The question of what Ireland’s landscape looked like in antiquity and what wildlife occupied these shores is something that occupies ecologists and nature lovers alike.

A new book published this month hopes to discuss one of our missing birds the Eurasian Crane.

The Eurasian Crane may look exotic to Irish eyes but there is much evidence that it was anything but.

The Crane became extinct in Ireland only in late medieval times, sometime between 1540 and 1600.

The new book, entitled Corr Scéal – Crane Notions, is written by Lorcán Ó Tuathail and published by Careful Publications.

It explores some interesting facts:

  • Cranes were the third most common domestic pet in ancient Ireland.
  • Cranes are the second most common bird mentioned in English placenames.
  • Crane bones are the fourth most common species of bird bone in the Irish archaeological record.

Here the publisher describes the work:

Cranes had an elevated cultural importance in ancient China, India, Egypt and Greece, where references to Cranes described them variously as ‘Birds of Heaven,’ ‘Immortal Bird’ and ‘The Magic of the Cranes.’ Enormous flocks of Cranes were a conspicuous feature of the inhabited world after the last ice age as well as throughout the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods and Bronze and Iron Ages. So, has the Crane left cultural footprints in our Atlantic Islands? And where should we look for these possible or hidden societal influences? After eight years of delving into the cultural remnants of a once-totemic Crane, author Lorcán Ó Tuathail presents twelve speculative storylines that shine light on a cornerstone of a forgotten and ancient Atlantic civilisation. Reaching into archaeology, language, animist beliefs and the dawning of knowledge, Ó Tuathail reframes the Crane story and calls for academic inquiry into its significance.
As doubts are cast on some histories from the humanist and classical empires, Ó Tuathail believes it is time to look past the text of the victors and embrace the views of the vanquished, the pacifists and their forgotten, often belittled cultures and histories.

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Ian Carey

Ian is the editor of the Green News. He works as Communications Manger with the Irish Environmental Network.