One of Ireland's leading environmental activists has called on writers to take a leaf from the book of a Co Down novelist.
Tony Bailie’s second novel ecopunks is described as an “environmental parable for the 21st century” and features a troubled eco-warrior as its central character.
While the novel, published by Belfast Lagan Press, was printed on recycled paper Bailie decided to go one step further and has planted 20 native Irish trees to help offset the carbon footprint resulting from the production process.
Bailie said: “I felt that taking on an environmental theme for my fiction brought additional responsibilities to me as a writer and even when I was writing it I decided that I would have to do something more than making sure it was printed on recycled paper.
“While ecopunks is aimed at a general readership, I did not want to simply tap in to the green zeitgeist without making a genuine effort to be true to the principles espoused by my main characters and the ethos of the novel.”
Bailie, a journalist with the Belfast-based daily The Irish News, worked with the paper’s gardening columnist John Manley to identify a plot of unused land beside the Co Down coast and what trees to plant.
Mr Manley said: “We planted native species such as crab apple, beech, hawthorn, elder and birch – all sourced bare-root from Conservation Volunteers tree nursery at Clandeboye, just outside Belfast.
“The patch we planted is close to the sea, out on the edge of the Lecale peninsula. We hope this small copse will one day provide a welcome shelter and resting place for migrating birds as they come in off the Irish Sea.”
The initiative and the theme of the novel have been welcomed by Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland Director James Orr.
Mr Orr said: “This book is not just a great story but a parable for the way in which we need to stop taking our planet for granted.
“The interlocking themes of a road destroying ancient woodland and nuclear catastrophe is set against the context that our time on Earth is a fraction of geological or ecological time. This book reminds us of man’s hubris and short-sighted arrogance in assuming that we are not party of nature.
“This is an also international story but could easily have been set in Ireland given what is happening to the natural world.
“With this superb book, Tony Bailie has given us great literature with a powerful message that none of us can ignore.”
Ecopunks is part adventure story, part psychological thriller and part New Age philosophy that raises serious questions about the impact of modern living on the world’s climate.
It tells the interweaving stories of eco-warrior Wolf Cliss, alternative archaeologist Kei Yushiro and Irish musician Lorcan O’Malley. All three are troubled characters in this intimate story about principle and belief that stretches from Eastern Europe and the rain forests of Asia to South America.
ecopunks by Tony Bailie is available from Lagan Press or from Amazon.
Above press release went out to media in Ireland and Britain this week.