Irish author charts 50 year love affair with Island

A FIFTY year love affair may feature in many tales, but a well known Northern Irish ecologist and writer is putting the island of Rathlin at the heart of his affections in a newly published book charting five decades of visits to its shores.

Philip Watson is a naturalist who has worked on several continents, but it is the lure of life on Rathlin island that has called him to explore the island’s mythical history, sealife, birds and wondrous natural terrain in ‘Rathlin: Nature and Folklore’.

Since his first glimpse in 1960 of her white chalk cliffs and dark basalts glinting in the sun, as a 16 year old birdwatcher studying golden eagles on the mainland, he has since spent many visits to the island for work and for pleasure, charting its changes - and sometimes beautiful lack of changes - in this new book, published by Stone Country Press Scotland.

“I never need an excuse to go to Rathlin, it calls me. Now I visit regularly for the sheer pleasure of being on this magical island, to see old friends, to renew acquaintances with tens of thousands of seabirds, a hundred or so seals, the island’s rare golden hares (only 2 known there) and to revel in that unique feeling of being on an island – one that retains its integrity and beauty while coping with a fast changing world,” said Philip.

‘Rathlin: Nature and Folklore’ is on sale now for £9.99 RRP at independent book shops across Northern Ireland or online at - see website for stockists. Philip will be signing his book at Waterstones Coleraine store on Saturday 11th June between 2-5 pm.