The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland's Border

Shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award

“Great writing about landscape and history” Colm Tóibín
"Packed with interest – varied and fun to read" TLS
"Timely, informative and often very funny" Tom Holland
“Garrett Carr engages a mapmaker’s eye and a writer’s sensibility to create a great book” The Irish Times
"A poignant, funny, memorable read, layered with ideas"
Nicholas Crane
"As definitive an account of the line as you will ever read" The Guardian
"It is Carr's contention that Ireland is more divided than any of us suspected — not in two but in three: north, south and borderland. The third state is opened up in this marvellous book" The Daily Telegraph
“Carr has the eye of a scientist, and a poet’s facility with words” Irish Independent
"From ancient defensive monuments to newly-built peace bridges, he gently uncoils themes of land, home, and power" Irish Examiner
"Powerfully captures the often desolate beauty of the border landscape in language that is both robust, yet lyrical" David Park

"Reminiscent of Tim Robinson's response to landscape and what dwells within" Sunday Times
"A sensitive portrait of the people of these borderlands, and his maps of the route are full of unexpected, lively detail" Radio Times
"The place is rich indeed in life and stone, and I have seldom encountered line drawings as clear and beautiful and photographs as fine as those that appear in this brilliant guide to the border" Literary Review

"An exceptional read" Sunday Independent


A BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week

THE RULE OF THE LAND is the story of Ireland’s border and a portrait of its landscape and people. First this three-hundred-mile line demarcated counties, then countries and will next be the frontier of the European Union. It was striking how little Ireland was discussed in the lead-up to the UK referendum on EU membership. You might have thought the border between the UK and the EU was going to be the English Channel. But it won’t be, it’s here, and it’s as thin as wire.

THE RULE OF THE LAND explores a fragile borderland, with an uncertain future. For the book I followed the border closely, no matter where it brought me. Where I could not walk, I went by canoe. At night I camped out on the land. I visited architecture on the border, forts and dykes as well as defensive buildings of the Troubles. I also met many people who live on the frontier, they helped me get beyond the borderline symbol on the map and find the living ground.

THE BADNESS OF BALLYDOG is an adventure story for young people from nine years and up. Along with my second novel LOST DOGS it was included in reads of the year lists in both The Times and The Irish Independent. DEEP DEEP DOWN completed the trilogy. The books are published by Simon & Schuster. See my page on Amazon or Goodreads.

"A born storyteller"
The Times
"One of the most imaginative debut children's novels I've read in a long time … Carr's writing is a joy – confident, muscular and fearless"
The Irish Independent
"Cracking story"
The Irish Times

I am a frequent contributor to the press, as well as TV and radio.

I was recently part of a panel discussion on BBC Radio 4 Start the Week and interviewed for NPR in the United States.

Here are pieces I wrote lately for the New York Times and National Geographic Traveller.

In 2014 I made half-hour documentary for BBC Radio 4 called CHARTING THE BORDER. It was based on my border surveys and the creation of THE MAP OF CONNECTIONS. On the frontier I visited new bridges and I spoke to people who built their own unofficial border crossings. The documentary can be heard through the production company’s archive.



Prints of these maps can be purchased on the map page.

THE MAP OF CONNECTIONS 3.1 charts unofficial border crossings: the stepping stones, footbridges and muddy lanes I found when walking the border. More on the map page.

FICTIONAL ULSTER locates Ulster’s fictional places – villages, townlands, mountains and other places invented by writers down through the years. More here.

A VIEW OF THE BORDER is the map that illustrates my book about Ireland's frontier. Prints of this map can also be purchased on the map page.


Maps of Northern Ireland are often used to illustrate traditional political divisions, but they conceal a much more nuanced place. This landscape, rural and urban, is much more than a site of conflict. I brought together diverse mapmakers: local historians, activists, artists, geographers and urban planners for a show of maps called MAPPING ALTERNATIVE ULSTER. It is an exhibition that re-thinks our representation on maps.

From the comments book:
Both fascinating and inspiring ... very impressive, pluralist approach ... It seems the people of Northern Ireland have a special kind of love for their land, and desire to map it ... A wonderful and imaginative exhibiton ...

There's an exhibition website.

The best way to contact me is through the form on the contacts page. There is a postal address there too. I can sometimes be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you for visiting.