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The Strangers Gaze: Travels in County Clare: 1534-1950 Book Cover
The Strangers Gaze: Travels in County Clare: 1534-1950
Edited by Brian O Dalaigh

Books Ireland
February 1999

Edited Brian O Dalaigh
CLASP Press, 392 pp + 8 of plates + map, endpapers,
Price: €27.00, ISBN: 1 900545 08 X

A delicious anthology of about 65 accounts of the county by visitors. The editor remarks that such texts are rare before 1800 (is tourism only two centuries old?), but he manages to fill more than a third of the book with such early pieces. He selects only those that directly record the writers' experiences, and omits those that are widely available elsewhere. Little enough is in Irish. The other county libraries should look with envy at the Clare Local Studies Project, which is run in partnership with FÁS, thus providing training and useful employment by producing fine books, of which this is the eighth published in three years. No less than 32 people are credited with 'preparing' the text. There is no reason why other counties should not or could not emulate this achievement. In fact all local publishing outfits should examine CLASP's products, because designer Anthony Edwards has a sure eye for what a book should look like, and this ability to pull the elements together clearly and simply is not common: it takes study and analysis to understand and discipline to apply. Quite apart from its use as an object lesson, this is also a fascinating read.

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Other Reviews

The Other Clare,

The Irish Times,
August 1999

The Magpie,
February 1999

Clare Champion,
January 1999

The Examiner, January 1999