Browser: On the road in old Ireland, and an accidental journalist

Brief reviews of: This Road of Mine; And Finally: A Journalist’s Life in 250 Stories; The Earth, Thy Great Exchequer, Ready Lies

Paddy Murray has worked for various Irish newspapers for 46 years.

Paddy Murray has worked for various Irish newspapers for 46 years.

 

This Road of Mine
Seosamh MacGrianna,translated by Mícheál Ó hAodha
Lilliput Press, €15

The translation of Mo Bhealach Féin, by the Donegal writer Seosamh MacGrianna, offers an account of his life as a marginalised figure who chose the precarity of the road and the company of tramps over a pensionable job. Ó hAodha’s fine translation respects both the spirit and the letter of the text. In a translator’s note, he compares MacGrianna’s work with Orwell’s, no doubt for its many sharp-eyed observations and acerbic commentary. Yet, this comparison does not do justice to the poetic tone of the text. MacGrianna’s familiarity with Irish poetry and legends ensures that the text includes many references to heroic figures, and quotations from the poems of his illustrious Ulster forerunners, endowing the text with a quality that Kerouac himself would not shun. – Clíona Ní Ríordáin

And Finally: A Journalist’s Life in 250 Stories
Paddy Murray
Liffey Press, €16.95

Paddy Murray became a journalist almost by accident and worked for various Irish newspapers for 46 years. He recounts stories he covered (from Italia 90 to the Stardust tragedy) and encounters with famous people (Elton John thought that a review he did of his 1984 Belfast concert was the most intelligent review he’d ever had) – with the emphasis on humorous encounters. There’s also a substantial autobiographical section, where he writes movingly about his parents, and his sister who had serious health problems. He’s been battling ill health for more than 20 years but there’s no self-pity; “positivity, music and whingeing” keep him alive, he says, but really it’s his wife and daughter. A very full life written about with ease, humour and insight. – Brian Maye

The Earth, Thy Great Exchequer, Ready Lies
Jo Lloyd
Swift Press, £12.99

I know I’m reading an excellent collection of stories when, beginning each one, I think to myself: Now, how is she going to turn this one? Jo Lloyd’s debut, The Earth, Thy Great Exchequer Ready Lies, is one such book. Its nine stories are about different forms of retribution and plunder: a butterfly collector confronts old age; a 17th century prospector faces his ruin; a peasant woman plays host to phantom gentry. In some stories, Lloyd gives in to a sledgehammer politics of goodies and baddies; authorial broadsides that sound off loudly in the silence cast by her taut prose. The rest, though, she brings off with a relish for the ironies of language and fate, as well as a fizz of the unexpected that announces her as an exciting talent. – John Phipps

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