On Sodomy and Restoration 

by Liam Heneghan A celebrated altercation between Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571), the Florentine artist, and fellow sculptor Bartolommeo Bandinello (1493-1560) resulted in the latter exclaiming “Oh sta cheto, soddomitaccio.” [Shut up, you filthy sodomite!]. The accusation had merit in the legal sense at least since Cellini had indeed been accused of the crime of sodomy with…

Killing Things

by Liam Heneghan In the early 1980s wanting to be a naturalist — a coleopterist, in particular, that most Darwin-like of naturalists — I spent a couple of summer months in Killarney National Park, in Ireland, making a collection of chrysomelid beetles. This was the first of many such collecting trips, part of a series…

Was St Patrick a Biocidal Lunatic? Some Sober Reflections on Ireland’s Patron Saint and Snakes

by Liam Heneghan Like a Noah in reverse St Patrick kicked snakes off the rain-drenched ark of Ireland. So complete was his mystical sterilization of the land that seven hundred years later in his Topographia Hibernica (1187) Gerald of Wales could write: “There are neither snakes nor adders, toads nor scorpions nor dragons… It does…

Thoreau’s Body of Knowledge

by Liam Heneghan Walking is a foundational practice, amounting in natural history to methodology. Charles Darwin in his Journal and remarks 1832–1836 more commonly known as The Voyage of the Beagle (1839) used the verb “walk”, or variants thereof, almost twice as frequently as the verb “sail” (walk, 94; sail 50). Darwin’s was more a…

The Uses and Disadvantages of History for Ecological Restoration

by Liam Heneghan Click diagram to enlarge Context: One of the newer biological conservation strategies, ecological restoration, attempts to reverse the degradation of lands set aside for conservation purposes by reinstating, as closely as possible, the species and environmental conditions that existed before recent and large scale disturbances by human activities. A newly emerging framework…

Only Mars Will Save Us Now: Space Exploration and Terrestrial Sustainability as competing Environmental Strategies

by Liam Heneghan More than any at other conferences I have attended, participants in the annual Mars Society meeting, which was held this year in Boulder, Colorado (August 2013) — their 16th such meeting, my first — like to nod their agreement. In contrast, attendees at the meetings I more regularly visit concerning the ecological…

Walking, Dublin (Sat, 23rd February, 2013)

By Liam Heneghan Before Nelson’s pillar trams slowed, shunted, changed trolley, started for Blackrock, Kingstown and Dalkey, Clonskea, Rathgar and Terenure, Palmerston Park and upper Rathmines, Sanymount Green Rathmines, Ringsend and Sandymount Tower. Ulysses, James Joyce. Only thoughts reached by walking have value.Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche In 1987 I saw him for the first…