Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Castles, Follies and Four-Leaf Clovers by Rosamund Burton

St. Declan's way is an obscure and none too easy to follow pilgrimage path which winds its way from Cashel to Ardmore on the coast of Ireland.

Rosamund, a slender adventurer with not much experience in humping a pack decides to walk the track in the wettest summer on record. This is detailed and reflective account of her walk through the beautiful countryside that she left long ago.

Though born in Ireland Rosamund was raised in England, returned to Ireland to live with her parents in a castle and is now based with her husband, in Sydney. She is an unusual travel writer for her journey is as much a journey of the spirit as it is a traversing of country. Is Ireland where she 'belongs' - can she re-connect with a country and a people that she feels a deep affinity for after living away for so long? It's evident that Rosamund has a love for the green Irish countryside, its beauty and strangeness. The wildflowers and healing plants she comes across are described vividly.

This is no journey of great hardship, rather a loving (and wet) tramp through the mythic Irish countryside with its dark rushing rivers and misty mountains that might just harbour fairies and leprechauns. Rosamund, you feel, is quite prepared to acknowledge the existence of such creatures.

As she walks the overgrown paths and climbs the sodden hills in the soft rain she tells us something of the history of the place, sometimes benign, sometimes bloody. The people she meets along the way are always ready to regale her with the local legends. Her affection for the land and its people shine through this book. Peter Smith

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