On the Beara peninsula in West Cork, a temperate rainforest flourishes. It is the life work of Eoghan Daltun, who had a vision to rewild a 73-acre farm he bought, moving there from Dublin with his family in 2009.
An Irish Atlantic Rainforest charts that remarkable journey. Part memoir, part environmental treatise, as a wild forest bursts into life before our eyes, we're invited to consider the burning issues of our time: climate breakdown, ecological collapse, and why our very survival as a species requires that we urgently and radically transform our relationship with nature.
This is a story as much about doing nothing as taking action – allowing natural ecosystems to return and thrive without interference, and in doing so heal an ailing planet.
Powerfully descriptive, lovingly told, An Irish Atlantic Rainforest presents an enduring picture of the regenerative force of nature, and how one Irishman let it happen.
Eoghan Daltun is a sculpture conservator, a farmer and, above all, a rewilder. Reared in Dublin, he has travelled widely, as well as living abroad in London, Paris and Prague. He spent seven years studying sculpture in Carrara, Tuscany.
In 2009, he sold the cottage in Kilmainham he had rebuilt mostly single-handed from a ruin – dating back to at least the 1750s – using the original stone. The proceeds went to buy a long-abandoned 73-acre farm overlooking the Atlantic near Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula, West Cork. Much of the land was covered in wild native forest which, although very beautiful, was ecologically wrecked by severe overgrazing and
invasion by a host of alien plant species.
Over the years since, Eoghan has brought life in all its explosive vibrancy back to the land, with new temperate rainforest spontaneously forming where previously there was only barren grass. Restoring such an incredibly rich ecosystem has taken him on a fantastic journey of discovery, lifting a curtain to reveal a whole universe of wonders beyond. Rewilding most of the land, and High Nature Value farming the rest, there has been plenty of time to reflect deeply on the ecological crisis unfolding at terrifying speed all around us, and its solutions. He lives on the farm with his two sons Liam and Seanie, their collie dog Charlie, and five Dexter cows: Maggie, Gertrude, Amber, Nelly and Minnie.
– An Post Irish Book Award Winner
"Daltun brings us on a journey into the history and ecology of Ireland's woodlands and provides an inspiring vision of their social, ecological and cultural potential if allowed to thrive again"
– Manchán Magan, writer and broadcaster
"This is an inspirational book. Eoghan Daltun's mission to restore an Irish rainforest has already inspired thousands via his posts on social media, and this account is sure to galvanise many more. Eoghan's evocative descriptions of the temperate rainforest he discovered growing on the Beara Peninsula, his knowledge of history and place, and his wisdom and insights into how to repair this damaged ecosystem, mean this book should be urgently read by politicians and the public alike. The time has come to restore temperate rainforests across Ireland and Britain"
– Guy Shrubsole, environmental campaigner and author of The Lost Rainforests of Britain (2022) and Who Owns England? (2019)
"Eoghan Daltun's wildly inspirational memoir of adopting a slice of Ireland's coast and snatching it from ecological degradation is an invaluable and timely revelation. By simple, if backbreaking, means – fencing out herbivores, extirpating invasives, and encouraging natural reseeding – he has allowed the land to live its best life, recovering its true character as temperate rainforest. It's a breath-taking accomplishment on an island where only one percent of original woodland survives and an urgent prescription for Ireland's remaining forest fragments. The moving epiphanies of Daltun's encounters with the "simply aching beauty" of this intoxicating place leave you rejuvenated, "as if you've won a much bigger jackpot than any of those they sell tickets for." The most exhilarating account of rewilding yet written"
– Caroline Fraser, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution
"In this part-memoir, part environmental treatise, we watch a temperate rainforest flourish on the Irish coast and are asked to examine larger questions about climate breakdown"
– Irish Independent
"If much ecology writing in Ireland is about paradise lost, then Daltun's odyssey, which at times takes on an almost dreamlike quality, is about paradise regained. He offers readers a tantalising glimpse into the mysterious, mystical, even spiritual wild world that lies waiting to be rediscovered"
– Sunday Business Post
"An Irish Atlantic Rainforest is Daltun's engaging account of his work since 2009 to regenerate that patch of rainforest. He tells of an enriching experience of embedding in a rural community, and how the woods come to sustain him spiritually and emotionally"
– Sunday Independent
"Daltun [...] writes with passion and purpose of the way we should live now"
– RTÉ Guide
"The book is both a lament for what's been lost, and a hopeful story of restoration"
– Irish Times
"An Irish Atlantic Rainforest is [Eoghan Daltun's] fascinating account of moving his family to Eyries and slowly restoring the farm and renewing the woodland to the point where it's now 'simply exploding with biodiversity'. [...] The book is a manifesto for saving our own corner of the planet through letting things be"
– Irish Times The Gloss
"There is a lightness of touch to this incredibly deep book. Its pages flow easily from reflections on life and death to analysis of the wider debates around rewilding and sustainable land use in Ireland, from global strategies for climate change to the minutiae of nature's tiniest creations"
– Irish Independent