Thin Places by Kerri ni Dochartaigh (Hardback ISBN 9781786899637) book cover

Available as Hardback, eBook

28 January 2021

A breathtaking mix of memoir, nature writing and history: this is Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s story of a wild Ireland, an invisible border, an old conflict and the healing power of the natural world

A breathtaking mix of memoir, nature writing and history: this is Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s story of a wild Ireland, an invisible border, an old conflict and the healing power of the natural world

‘A special, beautiful, many-faceted book’ Amy Liptrot
‘A remarkable piece of writing … Luminous’ Robert Macfarlane

Kerri ní Dochartaigh was born in Derry, on the border of the North and South of Ireland, at the very height of the Troubles. She was brought up on a council estate on the wrong side of town. But for her family, and many others, there was no right side. One parent was Catholic, the other was Protestant. In the space of one year they were forced out of two homes and when she was eleven a homemade petrol bomb was thrown through her bedroom window. Terror was in the very fabric of the city, and for families like Kerri’s, the ones who fell between the cracks of identity, it seemed there was no escape.

In Thin Places, a mixture of memoir, history and nature writing, Kerri explores how nature kept her sane and helped her heal, how violence and poverty are never more than a stone’s throw from beauty and hope, and how we are, once again, allowing our borders to become hard, and terror to creep back in. Kerri asks us to reclaim our landscape through language and study, and remember that the land we fight over is much more than lines on a map. It will always be ours but, at the same time, it never really was.


“A remarkable piece of writing. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book as open-hearted as this. It resists easy pieties of nature as a healing force, but nevertheless charts a recovery which could never have been achieved without landscape, wild creatures and “thin places”. It is also flocked with luminous details (moths, birds, feathers, skulls, moving water). Kerri’s voice is utterly her own, rich and strange. I’ve folded down the corners of many pages, marking sentences and moments that glitter out at me. Wow”
Robert Macfarlane

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“What was Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s burden as a child – to exist in “the gaps between” the Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland – has become her gift as a writer. She is sensitive to the legacies of loss and trauma and highly attuned to the gifts of the natural world and the possibilities of place. This is a special, beautiful, many-faceted book”
Amy Liptrot

“An eloquent, moving work of politics, geography and the self. Full of wisdom and deeply engaging”
SinÉad Gleeson

“A beautiful and harrowing book about trauma, the potential to heal and the subtle magic of the wild. Kerri ní Dochartaigh offers us a fragile kind of redemption, full of truth and solace”
Katherine May

“It seems as if everything about life is contained within the covers of this astonishing book: politics, history, nature, language and of course, love. A profound and moving work of art. This is a really special book – certainly, I’ve never read one quite like it”
Christine Dwyer Hickey


Kerri ni Dochartaigh

Kerri ní Dochartaigh was born in 1983, in Derry-Londonderry at the border between the North and South of Ireland. She read English Literature and Classical Civilisation at Trinity College Dublin and trained as a Waldorf teacher in Edinburgh. She taught in Edinburgh and Bristol, before returning to Ireland in her early thirties. She writes about nature, literature and place for the Irish Times, Dublin Review of Books, Caught by the River and others. She now lives in a railway cottage in the very heart of Ireland. Thin Places is her first book.

@kerri_ni