This travelogue moves along by Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, by the Burren, a land of strange beauty that inspired Tolkien, by the ruins of remotely-placed monastic shrines and chanting monks. Memories of W B Yeats, G B Shaw, John Millington Synge, Raftery and others are revived in Lady Gregory’s Coole Park, the nineteenth century literary workshop of Ireland where they planned the founding of the Abbey theatre. A trip by the royal sites of Ireland’s Ancient East opens up a lost world where at times history dissolves into myth – Tara of the high kings, the royal hill of Uisneach, Rathcroghan, seat of the warrior Queen Medb, Emain Macha, home of the kings of the Red Branch of Ulster. Viking raids occupy these pages too and King Henry Vlll’s dismantling of the monasteries one by one. The heady days of the nineteenth century land agitation are remembered when the forces of revolution joined with parliamentarians – Davitt and Parnell – giving the people the leadership they so tragically lacked during the Great Famine.
Holding these ages together is the landscape, sedate and unchanged since it convulsed into shape when continents shifted in the great volcanic shake-up millions of years ago.
But above all, it is the journeying companions that firmly plant this trip in the present – poets Michael Farry, the Kennelly brothers, singer-songwriter Christy Moore, local historian Gearoid O’Brien among other generous people, who come along to offer a vision of their youthful world.