648 Billion Sunrises: A Geological Miscellany of Ireland.

Patrick Roycroft at the display stand – happy

Patrick is a geologist and an editor with the international geology magazine Elements, but also an amateur genealogist. In his new book, this latter interest shines through.

For example, Patrick reveals the full name and background of ‘Miss Cotter’, the hitherto mysterious Cork woman after whom the mineral ‘cotterite’ was named (this being an exceptionally rare variety of quartz found in Rockforest, east County Cork). A whole chapter is devoted to three Irish Haughton professors of geology or geography, Patrick explicitly showing how all three are related:  the professors are Reverend Samuel Haughton, professor of geology in Trinity College Dublin in the 19thC; Joseph Haughton, professor of geography in Trinity College Dublin in the 20thC; and Peter Haughton, a current professor of geology in University College Dublin. And there is a short chapter devoted to a remarkable Rowcroft family who not only named all of their four children after gemstones but who also had several close relatives named after either gems or geological features!  And there are a variety of unpublished genealogical snippets throughout, e.g., on early 19thC Irish chemist of Huguenot descent, Richard Chenevix.

The author, Patrick Roycroft (left), enjoying a glass of wine with Eneclann’s dapper Managing Director, Brian Donovan.
Patrick (right) enjoying the fact that Dr. John Pyne (Geological Survey of Ireland) has just bought two copies!

The book was officially launched on November 4th at the Clayton Hotel (Ballsbridge, Dublin 4), and, in his speech, Patrick made a point of thanking Eneclann and Findmypast.ie. And Eneclann’s own Brian Donovan was there to help celebrate this unusual union between geology and genealogy.

 

In Patrick Roycroft’s new book,648 Billion Sunrises: A Geological Miscellany of Ireland (2015, Orpen Press), there is a surprisingly large amount of genealogical information, much of it brand new. For example, Patrick reveals the full name and background of ‘Miss Cotter’, the hitherto mysterious Cork woman after whom the mineral ‘cotterite’ was named (this being a very rare variety of quartz found in Rockforest, east County Cork). In a chapter devoted to three Irish Haughtons, all of whom were or are professors of either geology or geography in Ireland, Patrick explicitly shows how all three are related – the professors being Reverend Samuel Haughton, professor of geology in Trinity College Dublin in the 19thC; Joseph Haughton, professor of geography in Trinity College Dublin in the 20thC; and Peter Haughton, a current professor of geology in University College Dublin. There are genealogical snippets dotted throughout the book, including corrections to some standard sources, e.g., a correction to the,Oxford Dictionary of National Biography regarding the birthplace of Richard Chenevix, a late 18thC–early 19thC Irish chemist of Huguenot descent. And there is a short chapter devoted to a remarkable Rowcroft family – apparently not related to Patrick’s Roycrofts – who named all of their four children after minerals or gems. Not only that, but these Rowcrofts had a number of close relatives who were also named after gems or geological features! At the end of the book, and in reference to researching the Rowcrofts, Patrick adds a genealogical note warning of the dangers of blindly trusting on-line family trees. Thus, in his book on the many geological wonders of Ireland, Patrick places a great emphasis on people. Patrick himself is a keen amateur genealogist, as well as being a geologist, and he has a good sense of humour. All these traits make his book on Irish geology very readable and one of unexpected relevance to the genealogical community.

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