True characters

Liz Murphy interviews Dervla for True Characters in the Irish Times

My parents were . . . originally from Dublin. My father was from Rathmines and my mother was from Rathgar, practically neighbours. He was the Waterford county librarian and moved down to Lismore when he was appointed to the position. I left school at the age of 14 and looked after my mother for 16 years, as she suffered badly with rheumatoid Arthritis.

I wouldn’t want to go back to . . . some of my favourite destinations like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Peru. A lot of these places have been affected by political developments and wars. These are very different to when I started travelling 50 years ago.

My daily routine . . . starts at five. I have a big breakfast and, depending on the season, I take the dogs out. In the summer I swim in the river. I spend the day writing. I go to bed early, about 9.30pm or so. I don’t pace myself to have a set word count. When I’m between books, I love to have friends to stay in my home. That, for me, is a holiday.