Michael Kerr meets Dervla Murphy

Michael Kerr meets Dervla Murphy in a revealing interview for The Telegraph

In Wheels within Wheels, an autobiography published in 1979 that followed seven travel books, Dervla Murphy said: “One never writes anything of which one does not feel ashamed on seeing it in print.” Does she still feel that way, I asked her last week. “Oh, yes. I wouldn’t dream of reading anything I’ve written.” But surely, in her 84th year, she could look back on her 24 books and think that in one or two she came close to realising her intention… 

She chewed a while on one of the olives the barmaid had set down with her pint of beer (her favourite tipple), and eventually said: “Probably Gaza and the new one, yes. And I think the Rwanda one.” Another pause. “In Rwanda, I found it possible to be not exactly neutral but less sort-of decisive than I am about the Palestinian situation.” It was the latest book, Between River and Sea: Encounters in Israel and Palestine, that had brought her to London from her home in Co Waterford, Ireland. Following the death this month from cancer of her son-in-law (to whom the book is dedicated), her publishers had told her she could be spared the publicity round, but she wanted to keep busy.