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Teen naturalist Dara McAnulty: ‘When I was 14, I was lot more frustrated at the world — and that anger was almost a sickness to me’

Dara McAnulty launched on to the literary scene last year in a blaze of critical acclaim with Diary of a Young Naturalist. Now 17, the natural born writer talks about how that book helped him channel his anger and apathy into action, his ‘local’ approach to tackling climate change, those inevitable comparisons to Greta Thunberg, and why writing is a form of therapy for his autism

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Writer and environmental campaigner Dara McAnulty. Photograph: David Conachy

Writer and environmental campaigner Dara McAnulty. Photograph: David Conachy

Writer and environmental campaigner Dara McAnulty. Photograph: David Conachy

Writer and environmental campaigner Dara McAnulty. Photograph: David Conachy

Writer and environmental campaigner Dara McAnulty. Photograph: David Conachy

Writer and environmental campaigner Dara McAnulty. Photograph: David Conachy

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Writer and environmental campaigner Dara McAnulty. Photograph: David Conachy

“Sorry if I’m looking a bit flustered. I’ve just come out of an A-level politics exam.” Still in his school blazer and tie, Dara McAnulty is smiling broadly from out between lank curtains of shoulder-length hair. He might just be the only schoolboy in Ireland taking a newspaper interview after a long day of exam pressure. The apology feels unnecessary, whatever way you look at it.

Stressful” is how the 17-year-old describes the paper, adding that his hands are a bit sore after writing seven or so pages during it. Academia, McAnulty says, comes naturally to him, all fed by a ravenous attitude to reading and discovery.

“I love learning about things, especially the sciences, biology,” he says with the first of many charming guffaws, “and so I strive always for knowledge. That’s been the driving force for me — knowledge and curiosity.”


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