An honest and witty first-hand account of the extraordinary life of one of our best-loved, award-winning travel writers.
Dervla tells of her early life in Lismore, Co. Waterford, in her rather unusual household. Her father was the county librarian and her mother a chronic invalid. An only child, Dervla was allowed from the age of seven to freely roam on her own. At ten, she cycled ten miles to a local mountain, climbed it, then lost herself on the way down, and was forced to stay out all night – much to the distress of her parents.
Dervla’s life has always been eventful – living in a house that was crumbling around their ears, she reveals how her family hid a Republican who was later hanged, how she tested herself (with hot water) to increase her pain threshold, how she avoided an insane and shrieking maid, who was convinced that Dervla’s parents were fried eggs, and how she helped another maid give birth under the kitchen table.
An early love of books and writing led her to enter a writing competition arranged by a local newspaper, and she won first prize for five weeks in a row. Encouraged to leave school at the age of fourteen to nurse her mother, she portrays the strain that her mother’s increasing illness had on the family, and the resulting breakdown in family relationships in a characteristically calm and objective way.
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Dervla Murphy's account of her first thirty years lived for the most part within a thirty-mile radius of Lismore, Country Waterford is suffused with characteristic honesty, humour, courage and her irrepressible blend of unconventionality, energy and zest for life.
She tells of her hobby of collecting bones to from her own Identical skeleton; how on her tenth birthday she was given a second-hand bicycle and atlas and resolved to cycle to India; how she set off to the Knockmealdown mountains, most herself on the descent and contracted pleurisy; how she relinquished her early diet of Biggles and Sherlock Holmes to devour the literary greats, only numerically being defeated by the Trollopes; and how at twelve she won a first prize of seven-and-sixpence in an essay competition in the Cork Weekly Examiner with 'Picking Blackberries'.
Later, she tells of being kidnapped in Paris, and returning home across the Pyrenees with twelve large bottles of brandy rolled up in her sleeping bag. Finally, she cycles from Dunkirk to New Delhi, her experiences spawning her first books, 'Full Tilt' and 'Tibetan Foothold'.
'I relish immensely her energy, her humour and the compassionate eyes with which she regards the world… you feel at the end of the book that some understanding of life has been added to your personality.'
Dervla Murphy was born in County Waterford, Ireland, of Dublin parents in 1931. Since 1964 she has been regularly publishing descriptions of her journeys by bicycle or on foot in the remoter areas of four continents. She has also written about the problems of Northern Ireland, the hazards of the nuclear power industry and race relations in Britain.
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Book Description PENGUIN BOOKS LTD, 1981. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140054480