Old Book for a Quiet Corner of Ireland

Hello and welcome to A Traveler’s Library where we discuss books and movies and travel. If you came to look at the picture, please note it is not available for copying.  I hope you will stay a while and look around for travel books about countries that interest you. Don’t miss our other posts on Ireland.  Happy travels!

Puxley Manor, the future Dunboy Castle Hotel
Puxley Manor, the future Dunboy Castle Hotel

Book:Hungry Hill by Daphne Du Maurier

Destination: Beara Peninsula, County Cork Ireland

A new home for travelers is rising from the ashes, quite literally, of an historic country manor in a southwestern corner of Ireland.

Most of the books I read or movies I watch before I travel cover a whole country’s history or culture.However, when I visited American pianist David Syme and his wife Suzanne in their part-time home near Castletownbere, Ireland, I browsed through Suzanne’s travel library and picked up Hungry Hill  a book that is set in the remote area where they live. The tiny town of Castletownbere does not even make it onto most maps, but Daphne Du Maurier knew about it.  The Beara Peninsula in  County Cork, fingers out into the Atlantic Ocean. Toward the end of the 19th century, the Puxley family got wealthy on copper mines in this area and Daphne Du Maurier based her novel on the family’s story.

The Puxley family’s estate, burnt down by the IRA in the 1920’s,  is slated to be reborn as the luxury Capella Dunboy Castle Hotel. Historic renovation and financial woes have slowed the completion of the planned hotel, which as of January 2009, has no firm opening date. Although the planned Dunboy Castle Hotel will incorporate the remaining bits of the Puxley family’s mansion, it was named for an even more ancient castle whose ruins watch over the Bay a ten-minute walk from the new hotel. But the saga of one of the last of the Irish Chieftains  is a story for another day.

Du Maurier’s story portrays the hard life of the Irish miners and the contrasting concerns of wealthy land owners who lived here in earlier days.  Today’s economy subsists on fishing and tourism.  I was happy to find a part of soutwestern Ireland that had not yet been overrun with tour buses even though the Ring of Beara is every bit as beautiful as the better known Ring of Kerry.

Have you been inspired to travel by period novels? Do you have other books to recommend about Ireland? Please share some examples in the comments section.

Note: Photo by Vera Marie Badertscher, all rights reserved. Contact for permission before reusing photo.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

7 thoughts on “Old Book for a Quiet Corner of Ireland

  1. I am in the middle of Edward Rutherfurd’s The Princes of Ireland. It’s a FAB historical fiction that takes you through the pagan beginnings through the Christianisation and through the 1500s I believe. I’m still in the 1100s. 🙂

    There’s also a second book (which I have but have not yet read) called The Rebels of Ireland. It got really good reviews, and I’m anxious to read it.

    I just got Ireland: A Novel by Frank Delaney which is more an Irish folklore storytelling type book.

    And one more (I am a bit obsessed with Ireland), my friend just gave me one called Bloody Irish by Bob Curran. It’s more Irish folklore. Apparently vampire lore didn’t start in Romania, it began in pagan Ireland. Interesting!!

    Hope this was helpful. 🙂

  2. Thanks to both Kerry and Jessie for additional Irish book reccomendations. Too late for 2009 St. Patrick’s Day, but maybe by NEXT year.

  3. Nora Roberts gets southwest Ireland mostly right in her triology Born in Fire, Born in Ice, Born in Shame. I’m not usually a romance novel fan but these (set mainly in County Clare) were worth the read. I think someone who’s never spent time in Ireland might find them of interest too.

    Right now I’m reading the non fiction book The Sea Kingdoms, about, basically, early history of those countries facing the Irish Sea. So far, a number of good ideas.

  4. I’ve asked on Twitter for an appropriate read for Costa Rica. I’m in a book group right now that specializes in Latin American literature, so maybe I can pick the leader’s brains, too.
    I need to check out your blog post on what you want to read and where to read it. I need to add a page here with my travels and book list.
    I can’t come up with a strange combination from my past, but that’s an intriguing question, which I’ll turn into a post.

  5. I agree, almost all novels inspire some sort of travel, and travel with a good novel in hand is one of life’s greatest experiences. Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast is one of the first books that come to mind for making me want to visit a place. And I always try to pick a novel set in the location I’m visiting; in fact, I’m looking for a good novel set in Costa Rica for a spring trip. I’ve written on my blog about what I want to read this year and where.

    On the other hand, there is something to be said for reading something completely out of its element. I have wonderful memories of reading Edward Abbey in the Salzburg train station, The Grapes of Wrath on Corfu, and Melville in Verona. What’s the strangest combination you’ve had?

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