Catherine de Courcy is an author, travel writer and historian who has published in Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Australia and the United States. She has a BA and a Diploma in Library and Information Studies from University College Dublin, and an MA in history from the University of Melbourne.
Catherine is an authority on the history of zoos and has published extensively on the subject, particularly on the development of Australian zoos. She recently completed Dublin Zoo: an illustrated history , which was described by the Independent Zoo Enthusiasts Society, UK, as ‘probably the best-ever zoo history book from these islands’.
She met her husband, John Johnson, an Australian army officer and Vietnam veteran, while working in Papua New Guinea in 1986 and moved to Melbourne with him. Together they travelled the Australian outback and wrote two desert travel books, Desert Tracks and River Tracks. The guide books combined Catherine’s historical interest in human activity in the Australian outback with John’s extensive knowledge of fishing, travelling and survival in desert regions.
Following John’s death by suicide in 2000, she approached her grief as a tough adventure into the unknown. She returned to Ireland in 2003 and wrote about her explorations in a book, ‘An adventure in grief’, published by The Collins Press in 2009. Clinical psychologist, Tony Bates, said that the book ‘was an encouragement to anyone who is serious about achieving integration within their personal lives and learning to find their own unique way of belonging to and contributing to the world. It maps out a journey of recovery that will have resonance particularly for anyone who is trying to come to terms with trauma and loss.’
Catherine now lives in Dublin and is a full-time writer. Forthcoming illustrated talks on the history of Dublin Zoo and other subjects are listed under News.