Ingenious Ireland: A cornucopia of a book that should be savoured slowly

Mary Mulvihill’s odyssey around the country reveals Irish trailblazers and neglected subjects

Mary Mulvihill, author of Ingenious Ireland, photographed with Dick Warner, who officially launched the book at a reception in Dublin in 2002. Photograph: Frank Miller

Mary Mulvihill, author of Ingenious Ireland, photographed with Dick Warner, who officially launched the book at a reception in Dublin in 2002. Photograph: Frank Miller

Once asked to name the greatest of all the inventors, Mark Twain replied: “Accident”. Had Mary Mulvihill’s freewheeling narrative through every county in Ireland been available in his lifetime, he would have had plenty of historic names from which to choose. Peppered with quirky snippets, esoteric and entertaining facts, her book reveals insights into the lives of trailblazing men and women, neglected subjects and underrated landscapes.

The author was a pioneering science writer and broadcaster who died in 2015. Instrumental in founding Wits: Women in Technology and Science, her legacy lives on in this engaging book first published in 2002. Subtitled “A county-by-county exploration of Irish mysteries and marvels”, it covers a great deal of ground, commemorating achievements of pioneers in the disciplines of science, medicine, engineering, archaeology, architecture, geography and natural history.

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