Book: Castles, Follies and Four-Leaf Clovers: Adventures along Ireland’s St Declan’s Way, by Rosamund Burton
Genre and Year of Publication: Travel/pilgrimage, 2011
Where I got it: Gift from a friend, last year (read in July; reviewed in October)
Length: 288 pages
Briefly, it’s an account of a trek along an ancient Irish pilgrimage path which is being restored / revitalized
Comments: This was a re-read. Having just completed my second Compostela book this year (see my last post) and deciding that I’ll never do it, I turned to this book again, in which Rosamund Burton treks the much shorter, much less known, and much less supported-by-amenities (such as hostels) St Declan’s Way in Ireland. Running from Cashel in Co. Tipperary to Ardmore on the Co. Waterford Atlantic coast, it’s about 100 km altogether, over some low but not easy mountain terrain, as well as along river paths and pleasant country paths. In this re-read, I saw that the author really pads out her account of the trek with a lot of stories about the people she met, their family history, the history of their houses, etc. Many of these people were already known to her, as she lived for a time locally before emigrating to Australia. These padding-stories are not uninteresting, by any means, but they were not exactly what I wanted to read about right now. It’s a well-written book by an author who isn’t quite sure whether she’s “really” Irish or not, and who explores this question well in these pages, without letting the work degenerate into an angst-fest. Burton belongs in the “spiritual but not religious” category, and finds a lot of spiritual meaning in her trek. St Declan’s Way is an unusual trek, and this is a new slant on a popular theme (the pilgrimage journal). Hopefully the Way will become a bit more popular in the future, but hopefully too it will never become part of the “pilgrimage industry” in the way that the camino to Compostela has.
Challenges: Non-fiction challenge; Full House Challenge for the Category “Re-read”; Reading Round Ireland (Waterford – where the author lived for a time)