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The Shannon, the longest river in the British Isles, has inspired poetry and songs, its history is intimately connected with the history of Ireland, and there are sites of international ecological importance along its course, such as Lough Derg, the Shannon Callows and the Shannon Estuary.
Aiveen Cooper set out from the source of the Shannon at the foot of the Cuilcagh Mountains to travel the river's length to the Altantic Ocean. She passed through eighteen counties and over a dozen lakes on her journey. In towns such as Drumshanbo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Athlone, Shannonbridge, Banagher, Portumna, Castleconnell and Limerick, she discovered stories of the river and how these are intertwined with the story of Ireland, from eels and otters, eskers and islands to ancient kings, myths and monastic settlements, from Viking raids and Napoleonic fortifications to transportation, power generation and tourism. To many people there is something special about the Shannon, a state of mind that comes from loving the river and losing yourself on, in or near it. By the end of her journey, Aiveen had experienced this and her discursive writing interweaves history, natural history, science, archaeology and much else; in short, the story of Shannonland.
Aiveen Cooper's fascination with nature led her to study zoology in Trinity College Dublin. After this she travelled and worked abroad. She started to write in 2001 when working with the Royal Irish Academy. She recently completed a Masters in Science Communication at Dublin City University. She now works with NUI Maynooth and lives in County Kildare.