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Ireland: True Stories

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Travelers’ Tales Ireland reveals the heart and soul of one of the oldest and richest cultures in Europe. From its Celtic ancestry to its thoroughly modern economy, its predominantly Catholic faith to its thriving music and arts, Ireland is a top choice of Europeans seeking a friendly, cosmopolitan place to unwind, and Irish Americans seeking connections with their forbears. Experience the wonder of Ireland as you have always imagined it would ...

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Overview

Travelers’ Tales Ireland reveals the heart and soul of one of the oldest and richest cultures in Europe. From its Celtic ancestry to its thoroughly modern economy, its predominantly Catholic faith to its thriving music and arts, Ireland is a top choice of Europeans seeking a friendly, cosmopolitan place to unwind, and Irish Americans seeking connections with their forbears. Experience the wonder of Ireland as you have always imagined it would be.
- Kayak among hidden islands with Brian Wilson
- Share a poignant moment with relatives you never knew you had with Brian Moore
- Dance with delight with Niall Williams and Christine Breen
- Encounter friendly con artists with Thom Elkjer
- Explore ancient ruins with David W. McFadden
- Climb St. Patrick’s holy mountain with Colm Tóibín
- Pilot your own boat up the River Shannon with Kent E. St. John
- Discover the root of "The Troubles" with Cecil Woodham-Smith
- Explore Jonathan Swift’s Dublin with Rebecca Solnit
- Walk the Kerry Way with Tim O’Reilly
- Share Heinrich Böll’s thoughts on Irish rain

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Editorial Reviews

Celeste Sollod

Reading Ireland: True Stories of Life on the Emerald Isle is a surprisingly authentic substitute for a trip to Ireland, at least temporarily. The amazing thing about Travelers' Tales Guides anthologies, collections of stories centered on different places, is their ability to capture a place in words alone. The true talent of the Travelers' Tales editors lies in their ability to find stories that reveal the unknown aspects of the place.

Ireland does include stories about aspects of the country a traveler might typically think about: Catholicism-Frank McCourt's hilarious "Holy Communion;" cairns and stone churches-David W. McFadden's evocative "Mr. Looney's Archaeological Adventures;" and politics-Scott Anderson's terrifying "Making A Killing." The volume also includes a number of well-known authors; in addition to McCourt's story, there's Maeve Binchy's "The Chill of Autumn Charity," about a small begging boy who takes the rude comments he receives calmly, J.P. Donleavy's "The Miracle of St. Bridget," and Edna O'Brien's "Escape to England," about the pull of Ireland on one of its expatriates, to name a few, and their stories, often excerpted from previously published work, are great, as they are expected to be.

The true joy of reading Ireland, however, like the true joy of traveling, comes from finding lesser-known writers and lesser-known aspects of the country. The sheer exuberance of leaping, whirling, Irish dancing comes through in "Wisdom in the Feet," an excerpt from one of Niall Williams and Christine Breen's three volumes on living in Ireland. Their writing on his native and her adopted country rival that of their well-known counterparts waxing rapturous about the charms of Provence and Tuscany (only they actually live and work in the country).

Janine Jones, whose edgy story about a bus ride in Los Angeles appeared in Travelers' Tales Guides: America, contributes another disturbing and poignant snapshot of life unknown to mainstream society to the Ireland anthology. In "Tea with Mr. Curtain," she stays at a house in an out-of-the-way village where she meets an old, well-respected man who feels free to show her the hidden parts of his psyche, and she accepts him and his need to do so.

The introductory story, "An Unexpected Reception," by Brian Wilson, describes a unique arrival to Irish shores-by kayak-with some typical Irish twists. Wilson's kayak is mistakenly appropriated by the people who hold the rights to the wreckage that washes up in the bay near their house, but he is given a hearty breakfast and warm send-off by the matron of the house-and he gets the kayak back.

Like Wilson, many of the authors comment on the warmth and hospitality of the Irish. "Mediterraneans of the North" describes the lives of the lonely bachelors of the west coast. One has to admire how Susan Hughes, the author, is able to visit the male friends she has made there without feeling trapped by their need and desire for a woman. "The Miracle of St. Bridget," in which an older, handsome bachelor wishes for what an older, handsome bachelor might be expected to wish for, shows that Irish hospitality enriches the locals' lives as much as the travelers'.

Some of the best stories, while specifically about adventures in Ireland, are truly about traveling in general, about the value of adjusting to the surrounding place to absorb it on its own terms. In the short "Cycling to Dun Aengus," Tom Mullen describes slowing down to enjoy the pace of the land around him, allowing the rhythm of the countryside to seep into his body. Relaxing into a place allows a traveler to see its people as well, not as charming "types," but as complex cogs in their country. Being a traveler means being able to see and accept people as they are, interacting as one chooses. Looking for the "true face" of Ireland, Rosemary Mahoney finds herself among a group of young girls eager to examine a young woman outside their own world. While this is a book of travelers' stories, so is intended to be mostly about the perspective of outsiders, it would have been nice to feature some James Joyce or a Yeats poem or an old legend of Cuchulainn, perhaps in the sidebars sprinkled throughout the book. Cecil Woodham-Smith's "The Root of the Troubles" offers a little Irish history in regard to the centuries-old England-Ireland conflict, but more, perhaps from the perspective of a traveler, would have been nice.

As it is, though, this is another wonderful Travelers' Tales Guide. Irish eyes are smiling. Eyes are smiling all over the world, and Travelers' Tales captures them in book form.
Foreword

Celeste Sollod
Reading Ireland: True Stories of Life on the Emerald Isle is a surprisingly authentic substitute for a trip to Ireland, at least temporarily. The amazing thing about Travelers' Tales Guides anthologies, collections of stories centered on different places, is their ability to capture a place in words alone. The true talent of the Travelers' Tales editors lies in their ability to find stories that reveal the unknown aspects of the place. Ireland does include stories about aspects of the country a traveler might typically think about: Catholicism-Frank McCourt's hilarious "Holy Communion;" cairns and stone churches-David W. McFadden's evocative "Mr. Looney's Archaeological Adventures;" and politics-Scott Anderson's terrifying "Making A Killing." The volume also includes a number of well-known authors; in addition to McCourt's story, there's Maeve Binchy's "The Chill of Autumn Charity," about a small begging boy who takes the rude comments he receives calmly, J.P. Donleavy's "The Miracle of St. Bridget," and Edna O'Brien's "Escape to England," about the pull of Ireland on one of its expatriates, to name a few, and their stories, often excerpted from previously published work, are great, as they are expected to be.
The true joy of reading Ireland, however, like the true joy of traveling, comes from finding lesser-known writers and lesser-known aspects of the country. The sheer exuberance of leaping, whirling, Irish dancing comes through in "Wisdom in the Feet," an excerpt from one of Niall Williams and Christine Breen's three volumes on living in Ireland. Their writing on his native and her adopted country rival that of their well-known counterparts waxing rapturous about the charms of Provence and Tuscany (only they actually live and work in the country). Janine Jones, whose edgy story about a bus ride in Los Angeles appeared in Travelers' Tales Guides: America, contributes another disturbing and poignant snapshot of life unknown to mainstream society to the Ireland anthology. In "Tea with Mr. Curtain," she stays at a house in an out-of-the-way village where she meets an old, well-respected man who feels free to show her the hidden parts of his psyche, and she accepts him and his need to do so. The introductory story, "An Unexpected Reception," by Brian Wilson, describes a unique arrival to Irish shores-by kayak-with some typical Irish twists. Wilson's kayak is mistakenly appropriated by the people who hold the rights to the wreckage that washes up in the bay near their house, but he is given a hearty breakfast and warm send-off by the matron of the house-and he gets the kayak back.
Like Wilson, many of the authors comment on the warmth and hospitality of the Irish. "Mediterraneans of the North" describes the lives of the lonely bachelors of the west coast. One has to admire how Susan Hughes, the author, is able to visit the male friends she has made there without feeling trapped by their need and desire for a woman. "The Miracle of St. Bridget," in which an older, handsome bachelor wishes for what an older, handsome bachelor might be expected to wish for, shows that Irish hospitality enriches the locals' lives as much as the travelers'. Some of the best stories, while specifically about adventures in Ireland, are truly about traveling in general, about the value of adjusting to the surrounding place to absorb it on its own terms. In the short "Cycling to Dun Aengus," Tom Mullen describes slowing down to enjoy the pace of the land around him, allowing the rhythm of the countryside to seep into his body. Relaxing into a place allows a traveler to see its people as well, not as charming "types," but as complex cogs in their country. Being a traveler means being able to see and accept people as they are, interacting as one chooses. Looking for the "true face" of Ireland, Rosemary Mahoney finds herself among a group of young girls eager to examine a young woman outside their own world. While this is a book of travelers' stories, so is intended to be mostly about the perspective of outsiders, it would have been nice to feature some James Joyce or a Yeats poem or an old legend of Cuchulainn, perhaps in the sidebars sprinkled throughout the book. Cecil Woodham-Smith's "The Root of the Troubles" offers a little Irish history in regard to the centuries-old England-Ireland conflict, but more, perhaps from the perspective of a traveler, would have been nice.
As it is, though, this is another wonderful Travelers' Tales Guide. Irish eyes are smiling. Eyes are smiling all over the world, and Travelers' Tales captures them in book form.
Foreword
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781885211941
  • Publisher: Travelers' Tales Guides, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/10/2003
  • Series: Travelers' Tales Guides Series
  • Pages: 390
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction xvii
Map xx
Part 1 Essence of Ireland
An Unexpected Reception 3
A Mayo Dog 10
A Blackbird Follows the Heat of the Sun 17
Mr. Looney's Archeological Adventures 26
Irish Roads 39
Long Ago in Ireland 43
The True Face 52
A Pub Fairy Tale 71
Holy Communion 74
Mediterraneans of the North 81
The Miracle of St. Bridget 90
Thoughts on Irish Rain 104
A Begrudger's View 108
Walking the Kerry Way 112
The Root of the Troubles 118
Part 2 Some Things to Do
A Windy Tale on Cape Clear 139
An Appointment with Doctor Caldwell 146
In Killarney 152
Dean Swift's Dublin 158
Climbing Croagh Patrick 164
The Reel Thing 171
Renting a Piece of the Old Sod 181
The Fox Hunt 187
Wisdom in the Feet 193
To the Great Blasket 197
A Fish Story 209
Part 3 Going Your Own Way
Mollie and Eddie 219
Under the Light of Vega 223
Skellig Dreams 228
Captain River Yank 238
Land of High Spirits 242
The Sheela-na-gigs 257
My Own 262
Tea with Mr. Curtain 266
The Long Memories of Mayo 275
Cycling to Dun Aengus 294
Going Home 299
Part 4 In the Shadows
Making a Killing 307
The Chill of Autumn Charity 323
Annie and the Bishop 327
The Unsettled People 334
The Last Confession 337
Escape to England 346
Part 5 The Last Word
Tara 351
The Next Step
What You Need To Know 353
The Basics
Getting There
When to go/weather
Visas/permits
Customs and arrival
Health
Time
Money
Police
Electricity
Media: local newspaper, and radio
Touching base: phone, fax, E-mail
Cultural Considerations 363
Local customs
Events & holidays
Important Contacts 369
Tourist offices
Important telephone numbers
Activities 369
Off the beaten track
Fun things to do
Additional Resources 375
Ireland Online
Recommended Reading 376
Index 381
Index of Contributors 383
Acknowledgments 385
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