Row over access to Old Head of Kinsale inspires children’s book

‘Worms that Saved the World’ highlights environmental impact of golf courses

It was inspired by the fight to maintain a public right of way at a golf course at the Old Head of Kinsale in Co Cork but author, Kevin Doyle reckons his children's book The Worms that Saved the World could have international appeal.

Doyle teamed up with illustrator Spark Deeley and together they have produced a book for 3- to 7-year-olds where the humble worm saves the Kinsale headland.

"I had young children at the time, Reidin, who was four, and Saoirse, who was two, and we used to take them down to the Old Head of Kinsale where there were picnics as part of the campaign to try and maintain public access to the lighthouse when developers began building a golf course there.

"Unfortunately the Supreme Court ruled that golf and public access for walkers weren't compatible but I remember thinking at the time it might make an interesting story for kids and Saoirse had got a wormery and we were amazed by what the worms would do with the waste we put in".


It took Kevin several years to find an illustrator who shared his sense of how he wanted the book to look but when he met Spark Deeley and saw what she had done with her own book, “Into The Serpent's Jaws”, they clicked and together began developing “The Worms that Saved the World”.

“We only got a draft of it together two years ago by which time Reidin and Saoirse were too old for it – we thought it was a bit too wordy so we got some of our friends with younger children to test it for us and people came back with good suggestions on the wording so we redrafted it.”

“We’re very happy with the way it worked out and while it’s obviously inspired by events at the Old Head of Kinsale, I think it could have an international appeal because it ties into the ecological impact that golf courses are having on habitats all over the world.

“It is also about the need to stand up for your rights while celebrating community and solidarity and children will love these rebellious worms – let’s face it, earthworms get a lot of bad press but these worms have something to tell us about the need to share the planet and respect the environment.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times