Dervla Murphy - a birthday tribute by Hilary Bradt
My interview with Dervla, who will be 80 on November 28 2011, will be published by Wanderlust in the next couple of months, but I could have written twice as much about this delightful and wonderfully eccentric travel writer, so I’m jotting down a few additional quotes and memories here, while they’re fresh in my mind.
Many people have stayed with Dervla, or been host to her, during the 48 years that she’s been a writer, and any who visited her during the winter will remember the challenge of keeping warm (“I wonder if it would be possible to have a bath?” I asked on my first visit. “The river’s down there” she responded. It was while bathing in the same river some years later that a frisky bull charged her and broke some ribs – or possibly her back, I can’t now remember). Her hosts remember the challenge of keeping up with her questions: “When we emerged blearily for our morning coffee, Dervla was already, after having listened to BBC since 5am or so, fired up and full of questions we barely felt we could answer. We’re not economists or politicians but Dervla’s questions demanded that kind of substantial response.” (Wendy Woodward, Cape Town.) And we all remember the 5am starts. I recall carefully unfolding myself from the foetal position that I had held all night to conserve heat to see Dervla, bare-armed, carrying child-sized boulders across the patio to build a rockery . . .