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HRD Irish Drought Memories – Bath Spa University

Irish Drought Memories: A multi-disciplinary approach to Ireland’s forgotten hazard

Wednesday 21 February, 2024 – Wednesday 21 February, 2024
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM


Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Lecture Series 2023-24.

Although drought is an often-overlooked climate hazard in Ireland, Summer 2018 highlighted that droughts do occur, often with serious consequences for water supplies, agriculture, flora, and fauna.

Multi-year periods with limited rainfall are historically common and it is likely that the frequency and/or severity of droughts in Ireland will increase in coming decades. Less is known, however, about the human impacts of Irish droughts and what the societal impacts of and responses to these events were.

This lecture presents initial findings from the IRC Coalesce funded Irish Droughts project that brings together researchers from physical and human geography, history and environmental studies to address these issues. The project worked to reconstruct historic Irish droughts, examining their severity, geographical extent and impacts from the Middle Ages to the present using climatic records, tree-ring data and archival sources.

The research is focused on the more recent past (late 19th Century onwards) and the ongoing work to bring socio-economic information gathered from Irish newspapers and folklore into conversation with scientific climate modelling of drought periods. It has highlighted a number of divergences and convergences between the human drought catalogue and the catalogue of scientifically defined drought. A selection of these will be discussed in order to assess the potential and challenges in bringing people’s understanding of weather directly into conversation with scientific climate knowledge. 

About the speaker

Dr Arlene Crampsie is a Lecturer in historical geography at University College Dublin. Her research interests lie at the intersection of political, socio-cultural and environmental geographies with a particular focus on Ireland from the early modern period to the present.

Her research focuses on highlighting the evolution of everyday lives and landscapes through archival and oral history methodologies and she is Co-PI of the IRC funded project, Irish Droughts: Environmental and Cultural Memories of a Neglected Hazard.

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