Paul Clements travels the length of the Shannon in this book. It will be of interest to nature lovers and to tourists, containing a wealth of local knowledge of the area around Shannon, especially useful for ‘staycations’.
In August 1939 the Irish travel writer Richard Hayward set out on a road trip to explore the Shannon region just two weeks before the Second World War broke out. His evocative account of that trip, Where the River Shannon Flows, still sought after now by lovers of the river, became a bestseller.
Eighty years on, inspired by his work, Paul Clements – author of Romancing Ireland, the biography of Richard Hayward – retraces Hayward’s journey along the river, following – if not strictly in his footsteps – then within the spirit of his trip. From the Shannon Pot in Cavan, 344 kilometres south to the Shannon estuary, his meandering odyssey takes him by car, on foot, and by bike and boat, discovering how the riverscape has changed but is still powerful in symbolism. While he recreates Hayward’s trip, Clements also paints a compelling portrait of twenty-first century Ireland, mingling travel and anecdote with an eye for the natural world.
The book gives a voice to stories from water gypsies, anglers, sailors, lock keepers, bog artists, ‘insta’ pilgrims and a water diviner celebrating wisdom through her river songs and illuminates cultural history and identity. Wildlife, nature, and the built heritage, including historic bridges, all play a part.
On a quixotic journey Paul Clements produces an intimate portrait of the hidden countryside, its people, topography and wildlife, creating a collective memory map, looking at what has been lost and what has changed. This is the country of the River Shannon that runs through literature, art, cultural history and mythology with a riptide pull on our imagination – a tribute to Ireland’s longest river reflecting the deep vein flowing through the culture of the country.
About the Author
Paul Clements is a travel writer and broadcaster. He is the author of Romancing Ireland: Richard Hayward, 1862–1964 (Lilliput, 2015), as well as three books on Ireland: Irish Shores: A Journey Round the Rim of Ireland (1993), The Height of Nonsense: The Ultimate Irish Road Trip (2005), and Burren Country: Travels Through an Irish Limestone Landscape (2011). He has written and edited two books on travel writer and historian Jan Morris, and is a contributing writer to Fodor’s Guide Ireland and Insight Guide Ireland. A former BBC journalist, he is a Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford and lives in Belfast.