I first visited Ireland in 1947 – inspired by that King of travel writers, H.V.Morton and his ‘In Search of Ireland’. In numerous visits since, I have been struck by the changing face of the country, splintered by the formation of the six counties to become part of the UK.
The book tells of a country in desperate poverty, resurgence into prosperity, via the European Community, the fight for independence, the violence of the IRA and the Black and Tans. It tells of the eternal haemorrhaging of its people through emigration and a history bound up so tightly with our own.
The book is a personal account of the tours. It is more than a mere travelogue; it is a personal observation and evaluation of the traumatic phases of the country and its history – seen in past, present and future.
I am bewitched by the sheer beauty of Glengariff, see Cushenden and I’m reminded of Clough Elliss and Port Merion. See Donegal – now and in H.V.Morton’s time. Visit Knock and its commercialism. Visit Cong where the film’ The Quiet Man’ lives on. Attend Mass in Galway. Visit the Claddagh. Cobh – the saddest place in Ireland. Here the great liners waited for the emigrants – the haemorrhaging of her best and youngest blood. I kiss the Blarney Stone, discover drisheen, visit Mount Melleray, tour Bronte land. Take the rocky road to Dublin. Inform a lady in Drogheda that Cromwell is dead. Dublin and St Michans, shake hands with a Crusader, search for Uncle Barney, visit Guinness Brewery- the GPO and 1916 uprising – back to Larne and home.
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