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National Seashore Cape Cod: A half-dozen list

11/06/2013 Comments off

Great Island Trail

The outer coast area of Cape Cod stretching from Chatham to Provincetown has been protected since President Kennedy signed the National Seashore legislation in 1961. I have just returned from a week there and offer my half-dozen ‘to-do’ list:

  • Spend a few hours at the National Seashore visitor centre at Eastham to immerse yourself in the history of the area, view videos, collect maps and visitor guides.
  • Visit the Highland Light, Truro – the lighthouse that was moved intact from the edge of the cliff!
  • Walk some of the numerous hiking  trails; our favourite was the four-hour Great Island trek by the Cape Cod Bay shore line.
  • Cycle some or all of the Cape Cod bike trail developed on the former railway line  with over 20 miles of off-road bicycle paths.
  • Wander around Wellfleet and sample the seafood at the town’s Mac’s Shack.
  • Pick up  a copy of Thoreau’s Cape Codoriginally published in 1865and be amused by some of the writer’s opinions e.g. ‘The time must come when this coast will be a place of resort for those New Englanders who really wish to visit the sea side. At present it is wholly unknown to the fashionable world, and probably it will never be agreeable to them.’

The National Seashore was certainly agreeable to this visitor.

Astray in Erris

18/04/2013 Comments off

Glad to see The Irish Times recently publish my nomination of Erris in its Best Place to Holiday in Ireland series. This is a hidden gem in the north-west corner of my native County Mayo that is immortalised as the setting of J M Synge’s drama The Playboy of the Western World.

Best Place to Holiday in Ireland

Guided Around The Great Western Greenway

14/02/2013 Comments off

The Great Western Greenway

Iris Galloway, in her guide to the The Great Western Greenway – ‘the longest off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland’ – expresses the hope that her book will enhance the experience of this unique trail for walkers and cyclists. She succeeds admirably in her aim by welding together history, folklore, rich information on the biodiversity of the area, and practical advice for the visitor. All of this is capped off by the stunning visual production comprising archival photographs, vibrant maps and superb contemporary colour photography. The Greenway, of course, is situated on the tracks of the former Midland Great Western Railway line, the seven-decade history of which is book ended with tragedy.  We get an overview of this history, alongside rich and sometimes humorous anecdotes about the railway, and vivid detail on the railway line infrastructure as well as the natural life along the trail. There is detailed information on each of the three section of the trail from Westport to Newport, to Mulranny, to Achill Island. Head for the Greenway with this wonderful book to hand.

Achill Island a Century Ago

21/05/2012 Comments off

A Feast of Arts in Achill

24/04/2012 Comments off

Literary readings, three book launches, an illustrated lecture on ‘Women Artists on Achill’ by Catherine Marshall, and a guided walk on the nearby Clare Island, all feature in this year’s Heinrich Böll Memorial Weekend on the May bank-holiday weekend. The book launches include Gisela Holfter’s Heinrich Böll and Ireland, which charts the Nobel Prize winning author’s connections with Ireland. Eoin Bourke’s Poor Green Erin is a compilation of travel writings about Ireland written by German and Austrian authors in the 18th and 19th centuries. And I will read from my own book, The Veiled Woman of Achill, on Saturday, 5 May at the Valley House – the scene of the crime which I narrate in my book.

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