An honest and witty first-hand account of the extraordinary life of one of our best-loved, award-winning travel writers.
Dervla tells of her early life in Lismore, Co. Waterford, in her rather unusual household. Her father was the county librarian and her mother a chronic invalid. An only child, Dervla was allowed from the age of seven to freely roam on her own. At ten, she cycled ten miles to a local mountain, climbed it, then lost herself on the way down, and was forced to stay out all night – much to the distress of her parents.
Dervla’s life has always been eventful – living in a house that was crumbling around their ears, she reveals how her family hid a Republican who was later hanged, how she tested herself (with hot water) to increase her pain threshold, how she avoided an insane and shrieking maid, who was convinced that Dervla’s parents were fried eggs, and how she helped another maid give birth under the kitchen table.
An early love of books and writing led her to enter a writing competition arranged by a local newspaper, and she won first prize for five weeks in a row. Encouraged to leave school at the age of fourteen to nurse her mother, she portrays the strain that her mother’s increasing illness had on the family, and the resulting breakdown in family relationships in a characteristically calm and objective way.