John McCullagh December 25, 2003
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STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS ***Mourne Country by E E Evans has been reprinted for Christmas 2005 market. ***

Despite endless hints, not ONE of my large family saw fit to purchase me a copy for a Christmas present.  Would YOU like to make an old man very happy?



"Mourne Country" by E E Evans is possibly the most interesting, erudite, amusing, heart-warming and informative tome I have ever read, on the subject of the Mournes and the South Down region.  Although written more than half a century ago, its geographic and geological analyses remain – in a world of swift scientific advance and shifting hypotheses – surprisingly intact.

Evans, one-time professor of geography at Queens University, Belfast, was not native to these shores but acquired honorary Irishman status through dedicating much of his academic career and his huge research and literary talents to Irish studies, including the authorship of books on Irish folklore and customs.

No ivory tower academic, Estyn relaxed in the company of the Mourne people of his day, getting to know the landscape with and through them. In his book he knits them into the land’s magnificent architecture with an apparent ease that belies his huge literary talent.

Choose a page at random (here I chose page 15) and marvel at his relaxed but highly charged descriptive powers:

..the fortunate climber, from a noble peak, may chance to see a peregrine falcon keeping watch on the lonely hills..’ :

I could be there with him!

I admit that I keep coming back to this delightful book again and again, and always I acquire another little snippet that I appear to have overlooked before. In fact, it’s much like the Mourne walker himself, who is never disappointed in trekking his earlier pathways. Now honestly, how often can that be said about a holiday destination?

I really should not have reviewed this book for you, because now comes the bad news! It has been out of print for many years! Indeed some long time ago – in my enthusiasm to share its delightful charms – I loaned my copy to a ‘friend’ and, of course, never had it returned.

I regularly call into the Newry Library to browse their single remaining copy, and frequently to photocopy its pages. You might want to do likewise. I promise, you will not be disappointed!

‘..valleys nourished by many high springs .. sluggish streams’:

‘.. to one who reads the map with intelligence and feeling, the contours of the Mournes will sing together sweetly.’

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