Dervla Mur­phy

Dervla Mur­phy has been trav­el­ling ex­ten­sively the world over and writ­ing about it for over 50 years. A true be­liever in trav­el­ling the road less trav­elled, she even took her daugh­ter Rachel with her from the age of five. Sarah Camp­bell in­tro­duces us to a

Timeless Travels Magazine - - CON­TENTS -

She once de­scribed her­self as be­ing starstruck on meet­ing the great Freya Stark, yet it is clear that amongst her fel­low travel writ­ers, jour­nal­ists and fans, Ir­ish travel writer Dervla Mur­phy is re­garded in the same high es­teem as Stark her­self. Still writ­ing and trav­el­ling to­day at the age of 84 (her most re­cent jour­ney was to a Pales­tinian refugee camp in Jor­dan), cy­clist, trav­eller, and ac­tivist ur­phy has been a prom­i­nent fig­ure in the travel writ­ing world for over fifty years, since the pub­li­ca­tion of the sem­i­nal

Full Tilt in 1963. Still per­haps her best known work, Full Tilt doc­u­ments Dervla’s solo cy­cle jour­ney from her much beloved County Water­ford to In­dia’s cap­i­tal Delhi dur­ing the cen­tury’s cold­est win­ter, a trip widely doc­u­mented as be­ing the long awaited ful­fil­ment of a child­hood dream. In the half cen­tury which fol­lowed Full

Tilt, Dervla has trav­elled ex­ten­sively the world over, and pub­lished books de­tail­ing her jour­neys on foot, cy­cle or with a pack animal to des­ti­na­tions as di­verse as Peru, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Laos, Mada­gas­car, Ti­bet, Nepal, Baltistan, Ro­ma­nia, South Africa, Is­rael, Pales­tine and Cuba. With her fleabag’ bed­ding roll per­ma­nently at the ready, ur­phy finds shel­ter in the homes of the peo­ple she meets along the way, pre­fer­ring a space on the floor and good con­ver­sa­tion to the stark anonymity of a ho­tel room, if in­deed there are ho­tels to be found in her des­ti­na­tions of choice.

De­spite a self-con­fessed com­plete lack of for­eign lan­guage, map read­ing or even cy­cle re­pair skills, Dervla achieved the re­mark­able feat of suc­cess­fully and re­peat­edly com­mu­ni­cat­ing her ac­com­mo­da­tion, food and equip­ment needs in some of the most re­mote com­mu­ni­ties on the planet at a time when many of the peo­ple she met had never en­coun­tered for­eign­ers. By openly plac­ing her trust in the peo­ple through whose com­mu­ni­ties she trav­elled, she met hos­til­ity only on the rarest oc­ca­sions, find­ing far more fre uently than not that her un­sus­pect­ing hosts wel­comed her warmly and gen­er­ously (al­though Mur­phy made it a point of honour never to take ad­van­tage of the hos­pi­tal­ity of­fered to her, pay­ing her hosts in cash ‘for the chil­dren’ when ap­pro­pri­ate, or with small gifts or sim­ply re­cip­ro­cal ca­ma­raderie when she sensed that to pay would of­fend .

Like Freya Stark, Dervla Mur­phy found her pub­lish­ing home with John Mur­ray, form­ing from the out­set a close pro­fes­sional and per­sonal bond with the Mur­ray fam­ily. When the pub­lish­ing house was taken over in 2002 by Hod­der Head­line, Mur­phy moved to travel writ­ing spe­cial­ists Eland Books, with whom she re­mains to­day as she con­tin­ues to ex­pand her cat­a­logue of ti­tles, cur­rently run­ning to over 25 ti­tles. In­trigu­ingly, Dervla has talked of the ex­is­tence of two early un­pub­lished travel books, on Spain and Tur­key. Nei­ther of these reached pub­li­ca­tion, and an en­quiry at a speak­ing en­gage­ment from a fan as to whether she might con­sider ret­ro­spec­tively pub­lish­ing these now was met with a no, with Dervla ad­judg­ing that if John Mur­ray had con­sid­ered them un­fit for pub­li­ca­tion then, then his views ought to con­tinue to be trusted now, so they re­main tan­ta­liz­ingly out of the pub­lic eye.

In Full Tilt the reader is in­tro­duced not only to Dervla’s loyal com­pan­ion, bi­cy­cle Roz (one might spec­u­late that her full name, Roz­i­nante, was too long to record re­peat­edly as Dervla com­pleted her nightly di­aris­ing, a task she talks of hav­ing at­tended to without fail, no mat­ter how tax­ing the day be­hind her had been), but also to what might be de­scribed as the trade­mark char­ac­ter­is­tics of a Dervla Mur­phy trip. Broadly speak­ing, these in­clude a metic­u­lously re­searched and planned jour­ney, (yet one which is ex­e­cuted day to day with prag­matic adapt­abil­ity), an al­most as­ton­ish­ing abil­ity to ‘travel light’, re­mark­able phys­i­cal strength and agility, matched by a no less re­mark­able mental stamina, and the un­canny abil­ity to en­dear her­self to the lo­cals which has seen her suc­cess­fully find sus­te­nance, shel­ter and friend­ship the world over.

Mur­phy’s need for soli­tude has usu­ally in­flu­enced her choice of des­ti­na­tion

heav­ily, with her fre uently find­ing her­self tak­ing the no­tion of off the beaten track’ quite lit­er­ally. When The

Guardian pub­lished her ten tips for trav­el­ling Mur­phy style, top of the list was the ad­vice to ‘ Choose your coun­try, use guide­books to iden­tify the ar­eas most fre­quented by for­eign­ers - and then go

in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.’, al­though she has con­ceded else­where that it would be far more di cult for to­day’s trav­ellers to achieve the type of true es­capism she her­self ex­pe­ri­enced, not least due to the ar­rival of mo­tor roads to some of the more re­mote ar­eas she trekked through.

The much cher­ished con­cept of soli­tude and iso­la­tion has also tended to ap­ply to her ap­proach to com­mu­ni­ca­tion with friends and fam­ily back home whilst she is trav­el­ling (namely that she prefers to be un­con­tactable), and in­deed when she is re­turned from trav­el­ling and is writ­ing up, dur­ing which time she goes into what she de­scribes as her ‘pur­dah’ pe­riod, lock­ing her gates, ig­nor­ing her mail and tak­ing her phone off the hook to en­able her to write com­pletely undis­turbed for as long as she needs. She has ex­pressed her dis­may at mod­ern back­pack­ers’ ten­dency to spend their evenings com­mu­ni­cat­ing dig­i­tally with friends and rel­a­tives back home rather than con­vers­ing with those in their im­me­di­ate vicin­ity, de­scrib­ing them in

The Guardian as seem­ing only ‘par­tially abroad’ and blam­ing an over-reliance on stay­ing in touch for a de­cline in sel­f­re­liance amongst young trav­ellers. Yet even the fa­mously techno­pho­bic Dervla found that an email ad­dress and mo­bile phone be­came a nec­es­sary ad­di­tion to her kit when it came to the com­plex­i­ties of ne­go­ti­at­ing the lo­gis­tics of daily life in mod­ern Pales­tine, al­though it is clear from the re­sult­ing book that these did not hin­der Dervla’s abil­ity to con­nect on a hu­man level with the peo­ple she met.

Early life

De­spite these re­cent for­ays into dig­i­tal life, Dervla Mur­phy’s way of life is proudly rem­i­nis­cent of a less com­plex age – in­deed, she lives to this day in her child­hood home, sur­rounded by as few mod-cons as pos­si­ble. Mur­phy’s child­hood, ado­les­cence and young adult­hood is de­scribed frankly in the au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal Wheels within Wheels, a work orig­i­nally writ­ten as a fam­ily doc­u­ment for Dervla’s then tod­dler daugh­ter Rachel, but en­thu­si­as­ti­cally pub­lished in 1979 af­ter John Mur­ray learned of its ex­is­tence.

Born in 1931 of Dublin par­ents, Dervla Mur­phy grew up an only child in Lis­more, County Water­ford, where her fa­ther had been ap­pointed County Li­brar­ian, and where she still has her per­ma­nent home to­day. A bright child and vo­ra­cious reader, the young Dervla be­gan broad­en­ing her mind’s hori­zons long be­fore she had the op­por­tu­nity to venture far from her ru­ral home­town. In­deed, lit­er­a­ture, in­ter­na­tional pen­friends and an in­ter­est in maps pro­vided some­what of a re­lease for Dervla, who left school at age 14 to help her fa­ther keep house and to be­come a carer to her in­valid mother, who first de­vel­oped what would be­come crip­pling rheuma­toid arthri­tis when Dervla was still an in­fant. When her fa­ther also be­came se­ri­ously un­well, Dervla as­sumed car­ing du­ties for both her par­ents, a role she ad­mits took its toll on her mental health, but which she did not aban­don, con­tin­u­ing to nurse them un­til her fa­ther’s death in 1961 and her mother’s in 1962.

Whilst Dervla had been able to take some short Euro­pean cy­cle tours dur­ing the 1950s, it was not un­til 1963 that she was able to em­bark on her first ma or ex­pe­di­tion, and such was her long sup­pressed wan­der­lust that even the threat of one of the cen­tury’s harsh­est win­ters did not de­ter Mur­phy from mak­ing real the jour­ney she had dreamed of since child­hood, when she re­ceived a bi­cy­cle and an at­las for her tenth birth­day. Years later in her au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Dervla would re­call that on try­ing out the for­mer of those two gifts, she re­alised that if she, with the help of the lat­ter, ‘went on do­ing this long enough’ she would get to In­dia – a thought she did not share with the adults around her, how­ever, for fear that her plan might be in­dul­gently dis­missed as child­ish or naïve. Yet whilst it is quite un­der­stand­able that the young Dervla may not have wished to dis­close her plans for this rea­son, it can be spec­u­lated that it may well be the naivety, in its most pos­i­tive sense, of her travel plans which has driven their suc­cess; the sim­ple no­tion, fre­quently con­veyed in Dervla’s books, that one’s own body and in­quis­i­tive de­ter­mi­na­tion can take one where one wishes to go, is in­fin­itely ap­peal­ing.

Of course, to those not nat­u­rally gifted with Dervla’s ap­par­ently con­gen­i­tal ‘cando’ at­ti­tude, it might ap­pear, es­pe­cially in the light of the more per­ilous tales she re­counts, that it is brav­ery which lies be­hind Dervla’s suc­cess. Yet when­ever she has been de­scribed as brave, Dervla has been quick to as­sert that she is noth­ing of the sort, ex­plain­ing in­stead that she feels fear­less, choos­ing to feel fear only in the face of ac­tual dan­ger, rather than in an­tic­i­pa­tion of what could po­ten­tially be­fall her along the way.

Trav­el­ling in earnest

Full Tilt was fol­lowed by the pub­li­ca­tion of Mur­phy’s ac­counts of her trav­els in Ti­bet, Nepal and Ethiopia, trips which saw her con­tinue in her trade­mark self su cient style and en­counter such

no­ta­bles as The Dalai Lama, Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary and the fam­ily of Haile Se­lassie.

Dervla trav­elled to Ti­bet from Delhi, fol­low­ing her ar­rival there in the sum­mer of 1963. Quickly re­al­is­ing that the in­tense Delhi heat was un­con­ducive to fur­ther cy­cling in In­dia (some­thing Dervla de­scribes as ‘gross mis­man­age­ment of an itin­er­ary’), she turned her at­ten­tion to the pos­si­bil­ity of some vol­un­tary work. Judg­ing her­self to be use­less in most prac­ti­cal ar­eas, but with an in­fi­nite ca­pac­ity for rough­ing it’, a new friend pro­posed work­ing with Ti­betan refugees.

Con­di­tions in the camp were such, her friend ex­plained, that there was much which could be achieved by a will­ing vol­un­teer, even one without spe­cial skills. It tran­spired that these ‘Ti­blets’ were in­deed liv­ing in dire squalor, de­spite the very best ef­forts of those car­ing for them, mean­ing that Dervla’s un­usu­ally finely honed abil­ity to en­dure phys­i­cal hard­ship gave her a stick­ing power which would have eluded many oth­ers, and the chil­dren with whom she worked ben­e­fited enor­mously as a re­sult, as did those she sub­se­quently cared for her in the Nepalese refugee camps a year later.

In Ethiopia, Mur­phy ex­pe­ri­enced one of the few events she would look back on and de­scribe as fright­en­ing – be­ing robbed in a re­mote lo­ca­tion by ban­dits, known lo­cally as ‘shifta’. Al­though acutely aware of her vul­ner­a­bil­ity dur­ing the am­bush, Dervla de­scribes be­ing over­taken by an ex­tra­or­di­nary calm and prag­ma­tism in the face of the very real dan­ger, and even man­aged to find hu­mour in the sit­u­a­tion when the shifta added a packet of her tam­pons to their haul.

A trav­el­ling com­pan­ion

Dervla’s only child, her daugh­ter Rachel, was born in 1968 fol­low­ing Mur­phy’s re­la­tion­ship with the mar­ried news­pa­per editor Ter­ence de Vere White. Mur­phy raised Rachel alone, and char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally ig­nored any crit­i­cism en­coun­tered in the light of her de­ci­sion to be­come a sin­gle par­ent in 1960s Ire­land, pre­fer­ring to re­main con­fi­dent that, as a fi­nan­cially se­cure home­owner with a solid ca­reer, she was plenty able to bring up her child on her own.

Nat­u­rally, par­ent­hood brought with it a change in the reg­u­lar­ity and na­ture of Dervla’s trav­els, tem­po­rar­ily at least, and dur­ing Rachel’s early years, she earned a liv­ing mainly from book re­view­ing. udg­ing that the five-to-seven-yearold stage is ideal for trav­el­ling rough with small chil­dren’, Dervla re­frained from what she has de­scribed as se­ri­ous trav­el­ling with Rachel un­til she was turn­ing five, when the pair em­barked on a jour­ney to South In­dia , de­scribed as Rachel’s ‘Asian ini­ti­a­tion’, and recorded in the highly en­dear­ing book On a

When the Guardian pub­lished her ten tips for trav­el­ling Mur­phy style, top of the list was the ad­vice to ‘Choose your coun­try, use guide books to iden­tify the ar­eas most fre­quented by for­eign­ers-and then goin the op­po­site di­rec­tion

Shoestring to Coorg. Trav­el­ling got yet more se­ri­ous for the young Rachel when she and her mother spent the win­ter of 1974 - 1975 trekking through Baltistan, a re­mote, ex­cep­tion­ally moun­tain­ous area bor­der­ing In­dia and Pak­istan, with a polo pony named Hal­lam. Fre­quently en­dur­ing bit­ter tem­per­a­tures and ex­treme, pre­cip­i­tous paths, and ex­ist­ing on a lim­ited diet of ques­tion­able tinned sup­plies, eggs and apri­cots, the pair suc­cess­fully com­pleted a jour­ney that would con­sti­tute a stag­ger­ing achieve­ment for two adults, let alone an adult and a small child, and de­spite her ‘foal at foot’ be­ing, at times, a rather more talk­a­tive com­pan­ion than Dervla would have liked, Mur­phy writes fondly of her pride to­wards her young daugh­ter.

Mother and daugh­ter’s trav­els fea­tured again in Mur­phy’s sub­se­quent books on Peru, Mada­gas­car and Cameroon.

Eight Feet in the An­des, in which Dervla and Rachel trek in ex­haust­ingly tough con­di­tions along the length of Peru with their beloved mule Juana, re­mains one of Dervla’s best known and best loved books. Well known for be­ing an animal lov­ing fam­ily (Dervla is rarely pho­tographed or filmed at home without one of her dogs in at­ten­dance) the book high­lights both the pair’s de­pen­dence on and de­vo­tion to their animal trav­el­ling com­pan­ions, and when Juana goes miss­ing (pre­sumed and in­deed found to have been stolen) en route, the pair sense the tem­po­rary loss deeply.

As Rachel en­tered ado­les­cence and adult­hood, the com­bi­na­tion of a mother and grown up daugh­ter trav­el­ling to­gether (as op­posed to a mother and child) brought with it its own chal­lenges, and not even an ex­otic des­ti­na­tion could stop al­to­gether the par­ent-teen ar­gu­ments fa­mil­iar to many fam­i­lies. Ad­di­tion­ally, Dervla’s self-con­fessed mas­cu­line hair­cut and style of dress re­sulted in the pair be­ing fre­quently mis­taken for hus­band and wife, and Dervla would later note in The Guardian that whilst the mere pres­ence of a child ar­riv­ing un­ex­pect­edly in a re­mote lo­ca­tion with their par­ent acted as a clear sig­nal that the par­ent trusted the res­i­dents, two adults trav­el­ling to­gether could have the op­po­site ef­fect and eop­ar­dise the e tent to which a trav­eller would be ac­cepted into a ru­ral lo­ca­tion. Later, Dervla would be­come dot­ing grand­mother (known as Nyanya) to Rachel’s own three daugh­ters, and their ar­rival on the scene added yet another di­men­sion to her trav­els, and their tri-gen­er­a­tional jour­ney round Cuba, part hol­i­day, part clas­sic Mur­phy ex­pe­ri­ence, as Rachel would later de­scribe it, was fu­elled by fre­quent ice creams from the state run ice cream par­lour chain op­pelia, and is de­scribed in the first part of 2008’s charm­ing The Is­land that Dared.

A change of per­spec­tive

De­spite Mur­phy’s ev­i­dent pas­sion for far flung places, des­ti­na­tions a lit­tle closer to home have also been the sub­ject of her books. A Place Apart, pub­lished in 1978 takes up the com­plex is­sue of life in 1970s Ire­land and North­ern Ire­land, and in 1987, Mur­phy pub­lished the fas­ci­nat­ing Tales from Two Cities: Trav­els which saw her stray far out­side her re­mote and ru­ral com­fort zone to be­come a tem­po­rary res­i­dent of in­ner city Birm­ing­ham and Brad­ford. In­deed, the late 1980s saw a shift in the

Whilst Mur­phy’s writ­ing dur­ing that pe­riod re­mained broadly ob­ser­va­tional, she has de­scribed her­self hav­ing be­come in­creas­ingly ac­tivist as the years went on, in­creas­ingly in­ter­ested in so­cial prob­lems

na­ture of Dervla Mur­phy’s travel writ­ing, from the pub­li­ca­tion of her more purely di­ary-style trav­el­ogues, to­wards works of a more in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal na­ture. This shift is ev­i­dent not only in the con­tent of Mur­phy’s books, but also in her choice of des­ti­na­tion, find­ing her­self in­creas­ingly drawn dur­ing the 1990s and 2000s to re­gions af­fected by war, dis­ease, so­cial or po­lit­i­cal con­flict. hilst ur­phy’s writ­ing dur­ing that pe­riod re­mained broadly ob­ser­va­tional, she has de­scribed her­self hav­ing be­come in­creas­ingly ac­tivist as the years went on, in­creas­ingly in­ter­ested in so­cial prob­lems, and as a re­sult in­creas­ingly an­gry about the last­ing dam­age such prob­lems can do.

So whilst ac­tivism and ad­vo­cacy had been mainly un­planned or spon­ta­neously oc­cur­ring el­e­ments to her ear­lier trav­els (for ex­am­ple when Dervla found her­self fall­ing into the role of AIDS aware­ness ed­u­ca­tor as she trav­elled from Kenya to Zim­babwe, as re­counted in her book The

Ukimwi Road), they be­came the jour­neys’ raisons d’étre when Dervla trav­elled to Is­rael and Pales­tine as re­search for her two most re­cent books, A Month by the Sea: En­coun­ters in Gaza and Be­tween River and Sea: En­coun­ters in Is­rael and Pales­tine. fierce sup­porter of the Pales­tinian peo­ple, in a 2015 interview with The Tele­graph’s Michael Kerr, Dervla said of her time there that of all the coun­tries she had vis­ited ‘ that is the only one where I felt it was my ac­tual duty as a writer not to be neu­tral’, call­ing the treat­ment of the Pales­tinian peo­ple ‘ut­terly out­ra­geous’. She has ac­knowl­edged (al­beit in her typ­i­cally mod­est style) that by using her voice and rep­u­ta­tion within the travel writ­ing world, she can bring the plight of the Pales­tinian peo­ple to a wider au­di­ence of read­ers who might not oth­er­wise have read a book on the sub­ject, some­thing a Pales­tinian friend pointed out to her when she ques­tioned whether any book of hers could in fact add any­thing new or dif­fer­ent to the al­ready large body of work on the re­gion’s is­sues.

And as her books reach an ever wider au­di­ence, in­ter­est in Mur­phy her­self re­mains high, and a new fea­ture length doc­u­men­tary on her life was re­leased in April 2016 by Mixed Bag Me­dia. Pre­vi­ously shown in a shorter ver­sion on Ir­ish tele­vi­sion, this spe­cial edi­tion of the doc­u­men­tary, di­rected and pro­duced by Gar­ret Daly and Martina McG­lynn, has been re­ceived to great ac­claim, win­ning Best Doc­u­men­tary at the Water­ford Film Fes­ti­val and nom­i­nated as an o cial se­lec­tion at numer­ous in­ter­na­tional film fes­ti­vals, in­clud­ing the anff nter­na­tional ilm es­ti­val and the Gal­way Film Fleadh. Fea­tur­ing ex­ten­sive footage of and con­ver­sa­tion with Dervla, as well as in­ter­views with

her daugh­ter Rachel and tributes from other travel writ­ing greats in­clud­ing Michael Palin (with whom Dervla ap­peared in con­ver­sa­tion in 2012 at the Royal Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety), who called her ‘One of the most hon­est chron­i­clers of life on the planet’. In 2015, Mur­phy’s

Full Tilt was the sub­ject of a fas­ci­nat­ing short film by sabelle asters in which she doc­u­ments the book’s im­pact over the past fifty years. Re-tilt com­bines footage of the jour­ney Masters her­self made to Pak­istan with interview footage of Dervla recorded in her Lis­more home, and re­flects on how the sit­u­a­tion for women, both lo­cal and tourists, has changed ex­ten­sively in Afghanista­n and Pak­istan since Dervla tra­versed them en route to In­dia in 1963.

De­spite be­ing rather interview shy, the oc­to­ge­nar­ian Dervla has been a more pro­lific speaker and in­ter­vie­wee in re­cent years, and is cer­tainly not afraid to use her voice to speak out on the is­sues which mat­ter to her; in con­ver­sa­tion and interview she talks with the kind of frank­ness which is all too of­ten lack­ing in mod­ern day so­ciopo­lit­i­cal dis­course, hint­ing of­ten that her ad­vanced years and abushka’ sta­tus have fre uently af­forded her some­what of a free pass when it comes to ec­cen­tric be­hav­iour and bold opin­ions, both on her trav­els and at home – in­deed, when she re­ferred in the Ir­ish Times to politi­cians as ‘A pile of f **king s**ts’, her com­ments were hailed and shared widely.

A re­cent Guardian se­ries on in­spir­ing fe­male ad­ven­tur­ers ac­corded Dervla Mur­phy a spe­cial men­tion of her own, ad udg­ing that she didn’t fit neatly into ei­ther their ‘ad­ven­tur­ers of the past’ or ‘con­tem­po­rary’ fea­tures, and in­stead call­ing her a ‘travel great who spans the 20th and 21st cen­turies’. And in­deed, the no­tion of fit­ting neatly’ might be used to de­scribe the great para­dox of ervla ur­phy she fits nowhere, yet ev­ery­where. Un­doubt­edly and unashamedl­y dif­fer­ent from the vast ma­jor­ity of so­ci­ety in terms of her life­style and the in­cred­i­ble life she has lived in travel, Dervla is one of a kind. Yet far from iso­lat­ing her, it ap­pears that it is just this sense of de­tach­ment from mainstream so­ci­ety which has al­lowed Dervla to be ac­cepted, shel­tered, fed and wel­comed the world over. Al­most cer­tainly, her be­lief in a self su cient, non ma­te­ri­al­is­tic way of life, and in the value of sim­ple, hon­est, and just con­duct be­tween peo­ple, has pro­vided the cor­ner­stone of the hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, of bonds and friend­ships she has formed over the years.

A re­cent Guardian se­ries on in­spir­ing fe­male ad­ven­tur­ers ac­corded Dervla Mur­phy a spe­cial men­tion of her own, ad­judg­ing that she didn’t fit neatly into ei­ther their ‘ad­ven­tur­ers of the past’ or ‘con­tem­po­rary’ fea­tures, and in­stead call­ing her a ‘travel great who spans the 20th and 21st cen­turies’

Top: Dervla and trusty ruck­sack

Left: In Ti­bet in 1963 Right: Dervla in 2009 taken at the Royal Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety (Im­age: Hugh Thom­son)

Left: A young Dervla in Barcelona Above: A se­lec­tion of the many books that Dervla has writ­ten (many avail­able from Eland Books www.trav­el­books. co.uk)

Left: Mud­dling Through in Mada­gas­car, with Rachel aged 14 Right: Dervla at the Old Mar­ket, 2011, (Im­age: Paddy Barker, The Ir­ish Ex­am­iner) Over­leaf: Dervla to­day at 84, still trav­el­ling (Im­age: TomBun­ning.com)

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