“For the Love of Ireland”, by Susan Cahill, is a compendium of Irish literature that I stumbled upon in preparation for my next soft adventure. Not only did it give me an easy broad access to the genre but each story segment was followed by brief author biographies and a description of the part of the country where the author was from or the story touched on. Perfect for my superficial needs.
Visiting the Ireland I have encountered through literature and film is one of the goals of this trip. I have and have had many works by Irish authors and was able to refresh my leaky memory by digging into my own Library. Probably my favourite Irish author is Dervla Murphy, not a fiction writer, but a wonderful travel writer whose adventures have taken her by bike, donkey, on foot to many parts of the world. I believe she is still alive (she would be about 87) and I think I know where she lives… but alas… I am who I am, but you never know.
I have also found some succinct easy to digest histories of Ireland. I anguished at the domination and mistreatment by the English over the last thousand years; I suffered through plague, potato famine and migrations that continually drained the country of its people; I became frustrated with the eternal catholic-protestant hatreds wondering whether they persist because of Irish obstinacy or are the cause of it.
Netflix and Youtube gave me access to some of the old movies about Ireland that stimulated an interest in the wonderful Irish characters portrayed and in the lush green country depicted.
Once I have made a final commitment (usually a plane ticket purchase) to visit a place my reading intensifies and my interest in all things about the place grows. I would lose much of the value I gain from my travel adventures if I just threw a dart at my map of the world and headed off without the research. The downside of this trip is that when I bought my plane tickets a few months ago I underestimated how much my interests would grow with my research.
I only booked five weeks, from Sept 11 to Oct 16, thinking that would be adequate to cycle loosely around the outside of the island. Now it looks like to touch on many of the places of interest it will be about 3500 km leaving little time to stop for a day or two along the way or to do a few longer walks. I will not worry too much about which things I will have to cut out until I am on the way, but some things will obviously have to be sacrificed. I do hope to do a few posts along the way so, until then ….