The Wild Plants of Bere, Dursey, Whiddy and other Islands in Bantry Bay puts on record the variety of wild plants found in Ireland's most famous natural harbour. This part of West Cork is famed for its dramatic scenery, mild climate and sub-tropical gardens, and both land and sea are richly steeped in history. Plants, people and landscape have shaped one another, and The Wild Plants of Bere, Dursey, Whiddy and other Islands in Bantry Bay examines the history, geography, geology, vegetation and land use of this beautiful corner of Ireland, as well as presenting an annotated catalogue or Flora of its wild plants.
This Flora of the islands of Bantry Bay complements an earlier study of the islands of nearby Roaringwater Bay, published in 1996 and (Supplement) 2011. The islands of Bantry Bay proved to be as floristically interesting as those of Roaringwater, with a total of 578 wild plants recorded and doubtless many more to be discovered. In the past, botanists largely neglected the islands, especially the two largest, Bere and Whiddy, and most of the records reported in this present book were compiled between 1997 and 2008 by botanists based at Sherkin Island Marine Station. However, plant records from Bantry Bay go back over four centuries. Philip O'Sullivan Beare (1590-1636), who lived on Dursey as a boy and later wrote The Natural History of Ireland, noted medicinal plants, as well as crops and woodland trees, from Bantry Bay and the islands. Ireland's first woman botanist, Ellen Hutchins (1785–1815) from Ballylickey at the head of Bantry Bay, compiled an annotated list of 360 flowering plants found in and around the Beara Peninsula, and was the first botanist to record the plants of Whiddy Island.
John Akeroyd has a wide knowledge of the Irish flora, and especially that of the islands of West Cork, which he has visited for over 25 years. He edited the first Flora published by Sherkin Island Marine Station, The Wild Plants of Sherkin, Cape Clear and Adjacent Islands of West Cork, and has been advisor to the botanists at the Marine Station for many years.
John has a degree in Botany from the University of St. Andrews and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Having completed post-doctoral fellowships at Trinity College, Dublin, and the University of Reading, he became a botanical consultant, conservationist and writer, and co-founded and edited the international plant conservation magazine Plant Talk. He first learned of the flora of West Cork from the famous botanist Oleg Polunin, who had stayed on Sherkin in the early 1950s and who taught him at school. Since 2000 John has worked with a project in Romania that links farming, biodiversity and conservation. He lives and works in Wiltshire.