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Scholarcast 36: Draining the Irish Channel: Identity, Sustainability, and the Politics of Water

NIck Groom


In 1722 an anonymous author styling himself with the degree 'A. M. in Hydrostat' published a proposal in Dublin with the title, Thoughts of a Project for Draining the Irish Channel, a satire on both the South-Sea Bubble and Anglo-Irish politics, as well as a comment on the craze for projects and speculation, scientific advances in hydraulics and circulation, resource management and political arithmetic, and improvement and reclamation. The conceptual leap made in Draining the Irish Channel is that the sea can and should be improved: in other words, done away with. The sea could become not only the medium but the very ground of British colonialism; land could be created from unproductive water; the Irish Sea could literally become a new territory. In practical terms, then, the sea is recast as a geography of natural resources that could potentially be pumped, mined, and diverted using locks and drains, all for the health of the British nation.

Nick Groom

Nick Groom is professor in English at the University of Exeter (Cornwall Campus). His most recent book is the acclaimed study, The Seasons: An Elegy for the Passing of the Year (2013). His next book will be a polemic on the countryside, an edited extract from which is available here.


Series edited by: John Brannigan
General Editor: P.J. Mathews 
Scholarcast original theme music by: Padhraic Egan, Michael Hussey and Sharon Hussey.
Recording, audio editing, photography and development by: John Matthews & Vincent Hoban at UCD IT Services, Media Services.

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