John Feehan is a native of Birr, Ireland and is one of Ireland’s leading geologists, botanists, environmental communicators, authors and broadcasters. After receiving his PhD on the geology of the Slieve Bloom and Devilsbit Mountains in 1980, John went on to become a Senior Lecturer in the School of Agriculture and Food Science at University College Dublin, where he taught for twenty years up to his retirement in 2012.
John’s work is driven by a deep commitment to the maintenance of rural biodiversity and cultural heritage, and the sustaining of rural community. He has written extensively on the natural and cultural heritage of the Irish landscape and on many broader aspects of environmental science. John is particularly well known as an ‘interpreter of the Irish landscape’ – a role he received broadcasting awards for. He actively engages with agriculture and industry to build appreciation and understanding of biodiversity, and to develop conservation and restoration strategies. He is a strong advocate for community supported agriculture and integrated mixed farming as a means of maximising natural capital of land and sustaining rural community. Between 1992 and 2008 John collaborated with Bord na Móna on Ireland’s peatland heritage. He has developed principles for the restoration of the country’s post-extraction peatlands, emphasising their potential for biodiversity and as a rich amenity resource for local communities.
Currently, Feehan is building on his older postgraduate research, interpreting new findings on the geology of the Irish midlands and relating this to broader cultural heritage. Aiming to inform and inspire the non-expert, his current work with Offaly County Council and the Heritage Council provides new insights, showing how geology is expressed in the landscapes and local life of counties Laois and Offaly.
Feehan teaches on a range of summer schools, field courses and postgraduate programs and we are delighted he has agreed to contribute to our natural and fultural heritage courses. His other interests are diverse and include biology botany and palaeontology. His publication list is extensive and varied, mirroring his far-reaching career, and cannot be give justice within our brief bio; a more extensive biography and partial publication list is available here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Feehan)