Friday, 22 May 2009

Sea Legs: hitching alone around the coast of Ireland by Rosita Boland

I read, a few years ago, Rosita Boland's A Secret Map of Ireland, in which she visits a monument, oddity or spurious magical place in each county of Ireland. This is her first book, and describes a journey chosen following the purchase of a map of Ireland in Stanfords. Boland was born in Ennis, County Clare, but has lived away for enough time for the Irish people she meets on her journey to ask her where in England she is from. The real draw of the journey for Boland seems to be a need to reconnect with her Irish roots, to understand the country better, and perhaps, through her act of circumnavigation, to encircle and possess it. Lack of money makes hitching the only way to travel, and a B&B is an occasional luxury, most nights being spent in hostels of variable quality. Travelling in autumn and winter, she meets relatively few tourists, and has ample opportunities to enjoy the melancholy of off-season resorts. This is a looser, baggier book than A Secret Map; the contained nature of her individual journeys to castles and fairy trees in the latter book make for tighter, more focused writing. The pace of Sea Legs drifts and then hurries, replicating the nature of her slow-quick-slow journey rather well.

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