a wandering woman writes

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The 7 Wonders of Fore, Part 1

I read it in a book.

Dangerous words, those. At least if you ask the few and stalwart souls who now and again find themselves travelling with me.

I like to chase down things I read in books. Or on CD covers. Things I hear drop, casually, from the eager mouths of natives.

Maybe just to see if what I've read is real, maybe to suck in a bit of rare air, maybe to feel the familiarity of a place I've never been, I've developed a hard-to-cure book chasing habit. Of course, the reward is never in the being there - in this place I've picked out a photo or a poem or a life story. The reward's all in the trail on which I wend my way. And more often than not, the reward's the people I meet during the hunt.

The first Bed & Breakfast I booked for my recent trip to Ireland was Mrs. Healy's Hounslow House, where we would spend our last night in Ireland. Mrs. Healy's farmhouse was the only B&B listed in Fore, Castlepollard, Westmeath, and I was determined to chase down the 7 wonders of Fore.

The guilty book that sent me on this chase is a paperback I picked up in an airport shop on my way back from Dublin in November. In A Secret Map of Ireland, Rosita Boland, a staff writer for the Irish Times, wanders a country she thought she knew well - her own - and offers up a secret map. "Discovering new stories about old places", as she puts it, she chases down something new, or unexpected, or intriguing in each of Ireland's 32 counties.

From her introduction:
I wanted to write a book that attempted to show that you can be surprised by your own place.

Yes! Yes!

And later:
"Anyone could write a book like this one, and each one would be competely different because everyone would focus on different subjects, chart their own indiviual map."

Wouldn't it be fun if everyone did write that book? Their own secret map of the place they know best?

Anyway, I dug back into Boland's book before planning our trip, and knew I wanted to track down the Seven Wonders of Fore for myself.

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  • What a terrific idea - both the book and you tracking down places you've read or heard about. And I agree, the joy is in the journey, not the destination.

    By Blogger paris parfait, at 1:09 PM  

  • I loved this "Discovering new stories about old places".

    Henri Cartier Bresson also talked of a need to see our own country as if we were foreigners. (I don't have the exact quote) but I loved it way back when I first read it.

    By Blogger woman wandering, at 10:46 AM  

  • Its quite obvious that you must read Cees Nooteboom - "Roads to Santiago" He's brilliant, and you can go hunting around spain, no need to go all the way to Ireland. And in his spare time, he's a poet.

    By Blogger daniel, at 10:02 AM  

  • Yes, yes to all three of you.
    You know, Daniel, I brought Roads to Santiago home from the local library one day, but never got to it. It looked downright luxurious...I've been trying to read prose by poets lately, so you're bringing Noteboom back to mind is perfectly timed. I have a book about Portugal(Backwards into the Big World) by Paul Hyland, a British poet, in the cue.

    And don't worry, my primary occupation is hunting in (wandering round) Spain..although I haven't forsaken all other countries for her yet :)

    Thanks for the comment and the recommendation, daniel.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 7:01 PM  

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