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A Flock of Words: Explorations of the Irish Sea

These writings were the result of various journeys made in and between Wales and Ireland as part of a commission for the European-funded project Ports, Past and Present.

Published onApr 19, 2023
A Flock of Words: Explorations of the Irish Sea

The writings gathered here were the result of various journeys made in and between Wales and Ireland as part of a commission for the European-funded project Ports, Past and Present. Many of them became part of a larger book, The Turning Tide: A Biography of the Irish Sea (Harper Collins: 2023), and these appear here by kind permission of the publishers.

Read the book here.

Ports, Past and Present focuses on the five port towns which still run ferry services between Ireland and Wales: Pembroke Dock, Rosslare Harbour, Fishguard, Dublin Port and Holyhead. It envisages the Irish Sea not as a space which separates our two countries, but a rich and storied heritage, full of journeys and connections. During the course of the project, researchers from the University of Cork, the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth University and Wexford County Council worked with the port communities to bring the past to life through stories, films, apps, and twelve creative commissions.

In these vivid and engaging pieces Jon Gower evokes other types of journeys—the passages of birds, homing, migratory, or blown off course. Here, birds act as guides into unseen and hidden cultures, or to links with the past, from the dazzling stench of guano once collected at Grassholm, to the lovely litany of bird-names in Yola, the lost language of the Wexford area, or the rowdy arrival of ravenous Brent geese on the greens and pitches of Dublin housing estates.

This selection of Jon’s work has been edited and designed by Mary-Ann Constantine, Martin Crampin and Elizabeth Edwards at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies.

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