Review: This Place Speaks to Me, by John Quinn

Diverse voices, childhood and darkness, from radio to page

This Place Speaks to Me
Author: John Quinn
ISBN-13: 9781847307477
Publisher: Veritas
Guideline Price: €16.99

The diverse voices from John Quinn's radio programmes now speak to us from the printed page; each describes a special place. Childhood experiences leave the deepest impressions: a frightened Seamus Heaney starts school in Anahorish; Eibhlís de Barra roams with her gran among the loquacious fishwives of Cork's Coal Quay; Katie Martyn runs barefoot alongside her mother bringing food to the workmen in the fields on Island Eddy.

Darkness intrudes occasionally: Don Baker describes his miserable two years in Daingean Reformatory; John Lonergan takes us on a bleak tour of Mountjoy Prison; the author himself visits Auschwitz.

It's an eclectic selection; there are learned local history lectures on Bray and Carrick-on-Suir, and detailed descriptions of a sculpture garden in Glenmalure and Marsh's Library in Dublin.

My favourite is the artist Paddy Graham's full immersion in the summer silence of Westmeath: "nothing here like Killarney or the Grand Canyon, but a lived-in rolled-up landscape that folds in on itself like whipped cream".