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The Evolution of Ireland

is a MULTI-PART BOOK charting the evolution of Ireland's land, life, and people from their origins in the deep past right up to the present day, as well as exploring what Ireland might be like in the near and distant future.

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did

you

know?

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... that Ireland was once split into northern and southern halves which each belonged to different continents separated by thousands of kilometres of ocean?

That since these halves came together to form Ireland, its surface has been covered by deserts, rainforests, oceans, and ice, and populated by everything from hyenas and mammoths to mighty Sequoia trees and dinosaurs, possibly including some early relatives of Tyrannosaurus rexDiplodocus, and Stegosaurus?

That ancient relatives of modern marsupials may have lived in Ireland before they ever set foot in Australia, or that polar bears may be partly descended from brown bears that lived in Ice Age Ireland?

That Neanderthals are among the ancestors of the Irish, that the early Irish likely had dark skin, or that the ancient megalithic tomb Newgrange is over 500 years older than the Great Pyramids of Giza?

That Irish monks discovered Iceland, that there was once an Irish messiah, or that Irish revolutionaries once invaded Canada? 

That an Irishman commissioned Darwin's voyage on the Beagle, that at least two Irishwomen have craters on the moon named after them, or that a region of Jupiter's moon Europa is named after Connemara in the west of Ireland?

That the Soviet leader Lenin spoke English with a Dublin accent, that Mussolini was once shot by an Irishwoman, or that Hitler had an Irish sister-in-law?

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the idea

The Evolution of Ireland

is a work of creative nonfiction concerned with the search for the answers to two simple questions:

What is Ireland?
&
Who are the Irish?

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These questions are not new, of course, but The Evolution of Ireland answers them in a way that has NEVER been done before.

Building the story of Ireland up from the very beginnings of the universe in the Big Bang, A GROUNDBREAKING NEW PICTURE of Ireland's land, life, and people is created, uncovering mind-blowing facts about their true nature and their hidden connections with lands, life, and people worldwide. This not only allows us to understand Ireland's past and appreciate its present, but even provides a tantalising glimpse of Ireland's future.

The Evolution of Ireland, then, is simply a juggernaut of discovery, and one which is fuelled by only the best and most up-to-date scientific, archaeological, and historical research to ensure this new story of Ireland is as accurate as possible. In recent years alone, fossil and genetic discoveries have revolutionised our understanding of Ireland, pushing back the date of the first Irish by thousands of years and providing unprecedented insights into the nature and origins of Ireland's life past and present, while everything from heatwaves to storms have revealed hidden features of Ireland's land, from drowned forests and houses to new aspects of the great Neolithic tomb Newgrange.

The Evolution of Ireland pulls this huge amount of new and exciting information together and combines it with the best of existing knowledge to provide A COMPLETE STORY OF IRELAND FROM BEGINNING TO END.

This is simply the BIGGEST OF BIG HISTORIES, the telling of Ireland's tale from the very beginning also touching on the tales of countless other lands and their life and people past and present to create...

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An

Epic

story

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This epic story of Ireland's evolution traces its development from the geological evolution of the island itself and the biological evolution of the life which has come to inhabit it, to the evolution of humans, their migrations from Africa, occupation of the island from the time of the first settlers, and the subsequent political, social, and cultural development of Ireland from this point on.

The possibilities of what Ireland will be like in the near and distant future are also explored. These include, to name but a few: the prospects of a united Ireland, the effects of climate change and rising sea levels on the island, the trajectory of biological and human evolution and risk of human extinction, and the future of Ireland as a land, from its place in future supercontinents through to its fate when the Sun dies in about five billion years time and beyond, right up to the end of the universe.

To read about some of the fascinating highlights of The Evolution of Ireland, simply read on. Alternatively, click the button on the left below to go straight to THE STORY SO FAR – A SENSATIONAL SUMMARY OF THE EPIC STORY OF IRELAND'S LAND, LIFE, AND PEOPLE built up to this point, or click the MiniMag button on the right to read some of the actual book in the form of a number of FASCINATING EXTRACTS FROM PART ONE.

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five parts

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As currently conceived, THE EVOLUTION OF IRELAND IS DIVIDED INTO FIVE PARTS, the time range for each of which can be found below.

Part One:

the deep past

BIG BANG–EXTINCTION OF GREAT APES IN EUROPE (13.8 BYA–5.3 MYA)

Part TWO:

the first irish

RISE OF HOMININS–END OF THE BRONZE AGE (7 MYA–c. 500 BC)

Part three:

title pending

START OF THE IRON AGE–NORMAN INVASION (c. 500 BC–1169 AD)

Part four:

title pending

NORMAN INVASION–THE GREAT FAMINE (1169–1852 AD)

Part fIVE:

title pending

POST-FAMINE–END OF THE UNIVERSE (1852 AD– ?)

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highlights

LAND

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Piecing Together the Full Story of Ireland's Formation

Recents breakthroughs in astronomy have illuminated the very deepest origins of Ireland, revealing how the elements which make up its land  and the waters, life, and air above it – were created in the Big Bang and successive generations of ancient stars. 

Also, the latest geological models and palaeogeographical maps are painting an ever-richer picture of Ireland's incredible journey as a land, from the time its first rocks rose from the bowels of the Earth 1.8 billion years ago right up to the present, including its position in a series of ancient supercontinents. Ireland's position in a number of possible future supercontinents is also investigated, allowing us to imagine what Ireland will be like in around 250 million years.

LAND

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Unlocking the Secrets of the Irish Landscape

As Ireland's landscape has been 1.8 billion years in the making, only a book with the scope of The Evolution of Ireland can truly unlock the secrets of how its mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, and every iconic feature came to be.

From the limestone pavement of the Burren to the hexagonal columns of the Giant's Causeway, the depths of Lough Neagh to the peak of Carrauntoohil, the origins of every major feature of the Irish landscape are revealed, deciphering the hidden story written in the Irish landscape. All across its surface different tales are told, of savage ice ages and colliding continents, long-lost seas and ancient deserts, primordial rainforests and oceans of fire.

life

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Reclaiming Ireland's Lost Past

Though Ireland has some internationally renowned fossils from around 400 million years ago, including some of the earliest evidence for the transition of plants and vertebrates on to land, its fossil record for the last 300 million years is extremely poor. 

This lost age in Ireland's past is reclaimed by using the fossil records of Britain, France, and wider areas – as well as the latest palaeogeographical maps to establish when Ireland was joined to these lands – to build up a rich and vibrant picture of Ireland's ancient animals and plants. For instance, the British fossil record indicates that Ireland was likely home to everything from rhinos to red pandas, as well as a dazzling diversity of dinosaurs!

life

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Revealing the True Relationships of Ireland's Life-forms

The very latest genetic and fossil discoveries are used to reveal the true relationships between all of Ireland's life-forms and their affinities with life-forms worldwide, creating a picture that is both amazing and surprising.

For instance, did you know that the sheepdog at work in Ireland’s fields may be more closely related to either the horses or cattle it is rounding up than these similar-looking animals are to each other? That Ireland's bats are more closely related to the blue whales cruising through Irish seas than they are to Ireland's mice? That Ireland's housecats are quite closely related to the cheetah, or that its badgers are close cousins of the Himalayan red panda?

people

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Uncovering the True Origins of Ireland's People

Using the latest fossil and genetic evidence, the deepest roots of Ireland's people are uncovered, tracing their journey from the origins of the primate order 80–90 million years ago through to the rise of apes, hominins, and, eventually, humans.

The first Irish are also explored. Just this year, fossil evidence proved the presence of humans in Ireland as early as 33,000 years ago, but the longer human fossil record of Britain, which extends back almost a million years, is examined to see if people could have arrived in Ireland earlier than this. Genetic and archaeological evidence is also used to track the invasions and changing appearance of the Irish over the  last 10,000 years.

people

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Tracing the Deepest Roots of Irish Culture

Tracing the roots of art from the earliest evidence in pre-human apes all the way up to the sophisticated cave art of the late Ice Age allows us to look at early Irish art, such as that from Newgrange, anew, unveiling its deeper meaning and significance.

The roots of music are also traced like this, providing a background to the oldest Irish musical instrument known, the Wicklow Pipes – a 4,000-year-old pan pipe which, along with the horns, trumpets, and other instruments of the Bronze and Iron Ages, formed the bedrock of Ireland's musical culture before traditional music emerged in the Middle Ages. Click here to listen to some Bronze Age horns from Co. Kerry which sound amazingly like, of all things, a didgeridoo.

people

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Illuminating the Origins of the Irish Language

The deepest origins of the Irish language are also explored, from the origins and evolution of language itself right up to the emergence of complex languages in the later Ice Age and the diversification of the major language groups on Earth today.

Of these major language groups, it is the Indo-European group which is most deeply explored as this is the one Irish (and English) belong to. Who the Indo-Europeans really were is also investigated, as are the theories on the arrival of Indo-European languages in Ireland. There is also a brief look at some of the linguistic evidence for the nature of some of the pre-Indo-European languages spoken in ancient Ireland.

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an exciting story

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Although based on the best and most up-to-date research, as well as consultation with academic experts worldwide, this book is no dry collection of scientific data. Instead, this information is used to weave together AN EXCITING STORY OF VOLCANOES AND SUPERCONTINENTS, DINOSAURS, GIANT MAMMALS, AND MASS EXTINCTIONS, BRUTAL ICE AGES AND WORLD-SPANNING HUMAN MIGRATIONS, NOT TO MENTION THE RISE AND FALL OF GREAT KINGDOMS.

However, this book is also very concerned with the lives of ordinary people and seeks to shed light on those who are so often forgotten by history  women, children, and the elderly. Whether exploring the ordinary or the extraordinary, though, FREQUENT DESCRIPTIVE PASSAGES place the reader directly in a time and place, evoking the sights and sounds they would experience if they could be right there themselves, enlivening their understanding of any particular period with a sense of immediacy.

THE BOOK IS ALSO DESIGNED TO BE AS EASY TO READ AS POSSIBLE, with each chapter divided into around 15 sections roughly 10 pages in length. Thus, though The Evolution of Ireland contains a great wealth of information, this can be explored at the reader's leisure. 

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a global story

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With such a scope, The Evolution of Ireland is more than just the story of Ireland – it is the story of the whole world.

 THE SEARCH FOR THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS 'WHAT IS IRELAND?' AND 'WHO ARE THE IRISH?' LEADS US NOT ONLY TO FASCINATING KNOWLEDGE ABOUT ONE LAND AND ONE PEOPLE, BUT ALL LANDS AND ALL PEOPLE. 

Tracing the origins and evolution of Ireland's land and life takes us all over the globe, revealing hidden connections between Ireland and lands near and far, from the Arctic to Antarctica, the Americas to Australia, and everywhere in-between. And the same is true of Ireland's people.

Because of the depth of this book's approach, it could be read by any human anywhere on the planet and they would find answers to the deeper questions of their existence as humans too. From our deepest roots as primates to the origins of our species through to the biological, linguistic, and cultural divergences that emerged as we spread across the globe, the answers keep coming.

So, whether you are American or Australian, British or Brazilian, Japanese or Jamaican, Indian or Icelandic, Maasai or Maori, the story of The Evolution of Ireland is your story too.

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an important story

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The Evolution of Ireland is more than just an exciting story or a global story, it is an important story.

 Every day we are increasingly confronted with the profound effect our species is having on the planet, with everything from the climate crisis to the Sixth Extinction due largely to human activities. Many scientists now argue that our effect on the planet has been so great that we have passed into a new epoch – the Anthropocene, this name partly derived from the ancient Greek word anthropos, meaning 'human'. 

In many ways, this is a very scary time to be alive, with report after report of blistering temperatures, melting glaciers, floods and other extreme weather events, as well as ever-grimmer statistics on deforestation worldwide and the plummeting populations of many wild animals, from elephants to insects.

Faced with such a deluge of disheartening information, it is easy to feel overwhelmed or lost or even hopelessly angry, but there is still a great deal we can do to limit, and in some cases reverse, our destructive influence on the Earth. But to truly plot a new, sustainable course for humanity and our planet, we must first understand how we ended up on our current unsustainable path to begin with.

The Evolution of Ireland helps to build such understanding, as by looking at past episodes of climate change and extinction, as well as tracing the path of humanity from our earliest origins through to the advent of agriculture and rise of great civilisations and empires right up to our modern technological age, it places our current world in context and allows us to identify the evolutionary and historical processes at the root of our disharmony with nature.