John Feehan as part of the Offaly Heritage YouTube series on Wildflowers of Offaly showing Whitlow Grass.

New book on River Brosna to be launched

A new book on the environmental history of the River Brosna is to be launched this Friday.

There is an open invitation to all those interested in the River Brosna to come to the book launch on Friday, March 22, at 7.30pm in The Star (GAA hall) River Street, Clara, hosted by Clara Heritage Society.

John Feehan has dedicated much of his life to studying and communicating the evolution of the landscape and how we have lived in and changed it – his previous Offaly publications have included books on the Slieve Blooms, Croghan Hill, the Landscape of Clonmacnoise, An Atlas of Birr and more recently Killaun Bog and the Camcor River. This new publication focuses on the River Brosna and its catchment

The River Brosna is one if Ireland’s hidden rivers, glimpsed over bridges and for short stretches as it travels through Mullingar, Ballinagore, Kilbeggan, Clara, Ballycumber and Ferbane on its journey from Lough Owel to ShannonHarbour. Until now very little has been written about it yet few rivers have a more fascinating and varied story to tell.

The front cover of the book.
Author John Feehan.

In this beautifully illustrated book John Feehan brings his long experience as an environmental scientist and historian to bear on all aspects of the natural, cultural and industrial heritage of the river and its catchment. Successive chapters review geological origins, the biodiversity of the river and its tributaries as well as the great area of bogland it drains. The history of the mills along the course of the river, and of the two great arterial schemes that so altered the river are reviewed and particular attention is devoted to the extraordinary stories of Mesolithic Lough Boora and the Bronze Age Dowris hoard.

The launch is being hosted by Clara Heritage Society in the Star (GAA) hall in Clara on Friday at 7.30pm. Clara Heritage Society have been working with other towns and villages along the Brosna developing a ‘Connecting Communities’ project to celebrate and mark the importance and connection of the river.

Last year for Heritage Week Clara and Ballycumber both held events on the banks of the river Brosna with more collaborative events being planned for 2024. Previously Ferbane Tidy Towns have worked with composer Carole Nelson developing music performed with the community marking the river and the old railway bridge which crossed upstream of the town. Many of these projects and this publication have been supported by the Offaly Creative Ireland grant scheme to support communities to engage with their landscape. Ella McSweeney, presented of RTE’s Ear to the Ground and columnist with the Irish Times is the guest speaker and the book will be formally launched by Cathaoirleach Eddie Fitzpatrick.

This book of just over 400 pages, full colour, priced €30 and signed copies will be available on the night. The book is published by Offaly County Council with support the of Westmeath County Council and Creative Ireland.