I was both delighted and honoured to be invited to the launch of ‘An Historical, Environmental and Cultural Atlas of Donegal’ last Saturday night at LYIT. This Atlas is edited by Jim McLaughlin and Sean Beattie, both natives of Co. Donegal. These two men clearly believed that their county was a forgotten, almost desolate part of Ireland. This production will wave all such thoughts and beliefs. It firmly puts Donegal on the Ireland and indeed the world map!

“Your beautiful county that is Donegal. This Atlas will showcase what’s best in the county: the scenery, beauty and most important it’s people” said Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at the launch on Saturday night. He added “it’s a real privilege to be here”. McGuinness spoke of his family, many of whom are from Donegal, “my mother is from the Illies, just outside Buncrana”. He is clearly impressed with this work and recommended that all households should have one!

This is an all inclusive book. Jim McLaughlin, a political geographer and Sean Beattie, an historian, have successfully compiled some 77 chapters, by a variety of authors (all experts in their own areas). One learns something new with the turn of every page. One looks forward to both the reading and illustrations with each new turn.

Being a Donegal girl I absolutely love this collection. Living in the county for most of my life it is easy to forget and ignore the beauty that surrounds me. In recent years, I’ve sacrificed annual foreign holidays to explore my native county, and discovered that it was no longer a sacrifice but an honour and a privilege to holiday at home.

Sean Beattie said at the launch, “The Atlas will safe keep our modern history”. Jim McLaughlin believes that every Donegal home should have “The Bible, The Book of Kells and the Donegal Atlas”! Perhaps in time they will!

The physical environment, social history, religion, philosophy, folk life is all covered throughout the book. Nothing is alien. Martin McGuinness aptly said that it is indeed ‘”A work of art and of scholarly achievement. A wonderful, marvellous book”.

It is a virtual encyclopaedia of Donegal!

An Historical, Environmental and Cultural Atlas of Donegal is available from all good bookshops nationwide and from www.corkuniversitypress.com priced at €59