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Our Evolving Relationship with Life Below Water: Introduction

Stories, discoveries and ideas about the sea, fish, whales, coral, anenome, voyages of scientific discovery and exploration from the 17th century to the present, and how these stories continue to shape our world and link to the UN's Sustainable Developmen


Curation & Acknowledgements

Elaine Harrington and John Rooney curated this exhibition using items from UCC Library's Special Collections. Where in documenting the lives and works of the figures mentioned in this exhibition we have drawn upon the Dictionary of Irish Biography or the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, these sources are cited using the abbreviations DIB and ODNB respectively. We have also drawn on The Irish Newspaper Archive.

Tadhg Dennehy and Katie McShane researched and created the interactive elements. When Special Collections  launched Life on Land: Birds and Trees from the 17th-21st Centuries exhibition (July 2022) it included only visual and textual elements, and most importantly lacked student input. In 2023 we specifically wished to broaden the remit of the exhibition to incorporate textual, visual, audio and tactile elements created by undergraduate and PhD students Katie McShane and Tadhg Dennehy.

About Our Evolving Relationship with Life Below Water

As an island nation, our history and our heritage has been shaped by the sea and the great Irish rivers, lakes and wetlands. Explore in this online exhibition the worlds of mapmakers, artists, conservation experts, biologists and writers responding to the theme of 'Life Below Water.' Consider how their stories, discoveries and ideas from the 17th century to the present shape our world and link to the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water, and UCC’s Sustainable Development Goal Toolkit  and demonstrates why a greater awareness and understanding of the UN SDGs is required by all. 

Through events and exhibitions such as Our  Evolving Relationship with Life Below Water we increase the likelihood of reaching:

  • Target 4.7: By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles,
  • Target 12.2: By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.

We amplify our goals by using national and international themed festivals, celebrations and platforms such as National Heritage Week, Water Heritage Day, Culture Night and European Sustainable Development Week where we connect with a wider audience and like ripples on a pond this broadens the concept of who is the ‘student’.

This exhibition builds on:

An in-person version of this exhibition is in the Rare Books Reading Room in Special Collections & Archives, 22 September - 18 December 2023.

Events Associated With This Exhibition

Two in-person show & tell tours accompany the online exhibition ‘Our Evolving Relationship with Life Below Water.' In each show & tell event we explored some of the items in the online exhibition as well as other maps, posters, prints and books of trees and birds across UCC Library's Special Collections. These events were:

In February 2024 a colouring book tying into this exhibition was published on the New York Academy of Medicine's website as part of #ColourOurCollections festival.