Colfer worked as a Primary teacher in Wexford until he retired in
1997. He is an artist of some note and a historian of international
standing. Some of his books / articles are listed below including his
latest book "The Hook Peninsula." The paintings shown below
are original works.
The Promontory of
The County of Wexford.
Historic Hook Head, Co
The Ethnic Mix in
Anglo Norman Wexford 1169-1400.
The Hook Peninsula
(Cork University Press, 2004)
This case-study explores the rich landscape of the compact and highly
distinctive Hook peninsula in south-west county Wexford and places its
layered archaeological legacy in an historical context. The Hook forms
the eastern boundary of Waterford Harbour, the gateway to south-east
Ireland. Because of its strategic nature, the harbour has played a
central role in Irish history and this is reflected in the physical
remains around its shores. This book connects these remains in the Hook
peninsula with the historical record and places the local story into a
wider narrative. The origins of present-day families are also discussed.
By using a wide range of maps, colour photographs (many of them aerial)
prints and illustrations, the gradual evolution of the cultural
landscape from earliest times to the present day is traced. The need for
modern developments to appreciate and respect the inherited environment,
and to conserve it for future generations, is also examined.
Billy's book was launched by Dr Pauric Travers, President of St
Patrick’s College of Education at the Merrion
Hotel on 30 November. Dr Travers said that it "was the product of
a lifetime’s work and a great honour for him to launch such an important
book that had been written by a past pupils of the university." (Billy
graduated from St
Patrick’s College in 1961.) "In the same way as the Hook was unique yet
representative of the Irish rural landscape, Billy Colfer is
representative of a generation of teachers, particularly primary
teachers who have made a significant contribution to local studies and
local history in Ireland. Individually and collectively, their
stories were of a lifetime of service to schools, parishes and
communities up and down the country."
Dr Travers continued that "The Hook Peninsula demonstrated
graphically the dynamism of the landscape, how it was shaped and
re-shaped in successive eras, and and how it continues to be
shaped by tourism and other factors. In a series of
chapters, the interaction of different groups and communities with
the landscape and their imprint on it is uncovered.
The Hook is a distinctive landscape, isolated but strategic –
remote by land, at least relatively, but intimately
connected with a wider world by sea and the trade routes.
The sea is a central character in the story of the peninsula and
one which through the ages elevates that story from the local to
regional, national and international significance. From
Early Medieval times the Hook has had a beacon to warn ships of the
approach to Waterford Harbour. A monastery was founded there by Marshall
in his gratitude after surviving a treacherous sea voyage. The sea
provided a living and an orientation for so many of the Hook's
inhabitants. It is always with you in the Hook; and always present in
In their preface, the joint editors of the rural landscape series write
of making the familiar exotic and lifting the lid on the present
surface to show the buried layers beneath. Learning to read the
landscape is a form of literacy: to look afresh at what see
everyday but don’t see, what we take for granted – that is the challenge
for the local historian and the teacher of local studies. Dr
Travers concluded that "in The Hook Peninsula, Billy Colfer does that
with an ease, an understanding and a familiarity which is only
possible for a sympathetic insider, and with an assuredness, perspective
and frame of reference which is the mark of the professional historian."
One of the most notable features of Billy Colfer's book
on Wexford's Hook Peninsula is the amount of detail he has managed to
- BookView Ireland
"The Hook Peninsula"
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