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BOOKS New book opens a window onto Lough Carra

Staying In

‘Quinn’s Bay’, taken by Lynda Huxley
‘Quinn’s Bay’, taken by Lynda Huxley.

New book opens a window onto Lough Carra

Lough Carra, one of Mayo’s most valuable natural assets, has been the subject of study by many famous scientists and naturalists, including Robert Lloyd Praeger and Major Robert Ruttledge. It harbours a rich variety of archaeological treasures, has fascinating and complex historical interest and has been the inspiration of novelists (especially George Moore whose novel ‘The Lake’ is set on Lough Carra), poets, musicians and artists. It is also renowned as a wild brown trout fishery.
These multiple themes have all been brought together in a lavishly illustrated book, ‘Lough Carra’, by Chris and Lynda Huxley of Carrajames, Belcarra. For the last 15 years, the Huxleys have been studying the lough and gathering together information on a wide range of topics. With grants from the Heritage Council, they established and developed a website devoted to Lough Carra,, so that the information could be easily available to all.
Now, they have produced a synthesis of what is known about this wonderful site, illustrated with Lynda’s photographs (many people will know of her photography from her ‘Mayo Calendar’ and greetings cards). There are also reproductions of many of the impressionist paintings of Lough Carra by Partry artist Deirdre Walsh.
The book covers geology, climate, archaeology, history, art and literature, flora and fauna, aquatic ecology and angling, and ends with a discussion of what the future might hold for the lough and its surroundings. It contains a plethora of information on all these topics, presented in a way that will be readily understandable to everyone. The book marks the first time that a wide-ranging summary of one of Mayo’s natural assets has been produced in such a format.

Chris (ecologist) and Lynda (photographer) are publishing this book themselves, and it will be launched at the Linenhall Arts Centre at 7.30pm on Friday, March 20. Dr Ken Irvine, currently Professor of Aquatic Ecosystems at the UNESCO Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, but previously leader of the Trinity College Dublin Lough Carra research team, will formally launch the book and open the associated exhibition of Deirdre Walsh’s paintings and Lynda Huxley’s photographs. The event is free and open to all.
Following the book launch, on the next afternoon (March 21), there will be a series of short illustrated talks about Lough Carra in the auditorium of the Linenhall Arts Centre. Chris Huxley will cover the fauna and flora of the lough, Cilian Roden of GMIT will talk about the aquatic ecology, Dr Yvonne McDermott of GMIT will discuss Burriscarra Friary and the mendicant friars, and Deirdre Walsh will describe her work to capture the changing moods of Carra on canvas.
For those wishing to explore the Carra environment more closely, there will be guided walks of the Doon Peninsula, led by Chris and Lynda, on the Sunday (March 22 – World Water Day).  This site has a rich archaeology, local historical interest and a magnificent area of woodland with many wildflowers. Advance booking for the events on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21, is essential.

Signed copies of ‘Lough Carra’, by Chris and Lynda Huxley, will be available for purchase at the launch and subsequently through many of Mayo’s bookshops, or directly from Chris & Lynda Huxley,  Carra Books, Carrajames, Belcarra, Castlebar, Co Mayo. For more information, contact 094 9032422 or