Dervla Murphy, intrepid travel writer, dies at 90

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Dervla Murphy, Irish travel writer who started it The illustrious career that took an epic solo cycling trip across Europe to India in 1963 and then set out to explore vast areas of the developing world on foot, challenging the social expectations of women along the way, died on May 22 at her home in Lismore, Ireland. She was 90.

Her London publisher, Eland Books, has announced her death. She recently suffered a series of strokes.

Decades before Cheryl Strayed walked the Pacific Ridge trail with little preparation and turned it into her best-selling memoir, “Wild” inspired Ms. Murphy. generations of readers, embarking on one trip after another with minimal equipment, but with great perseverance.

For Ms Murphy, the serious journey began at age 30 after years of caring for her disabled mother. Later, as a single mother, she supported herself and her daughter in her travels. She has published 26 books in total.

“She served as a role model for independence, freedom of spirit for a whole generation of women when there was none like it in Ireland,” said fellow traveler Manchan Magan in the 2016 documentary Who Is Dervla Murphy?

Most active from the 1960s to the 1990s, Ms. Murphy was drawn to parts of the world largely untouched by industrialization, urbanization, and consumerism, where people lived without access to modern plumbing or electricity, let alone satellite television and cell phones. phones. .

At home in Lismore, where she lived in a maze of old stone rooms with no central heating, she never learned to drive or use a computer. She avoided small talk and regularly turned down book tours and interviews. “Interviewing Dervla is like trying to open an oyster with a wet bus ticket,” said Jock Murray, its original publisher. once said.

While traveling, she renounced basic comforts, often slept in a tent and used the restrooms, and admitted that she was “immune” to discomfort. “It literally doesn’t matter to me if I sleep on the floor or on a mattress,” she said in the documentary. I just don’t notice the difference. And that’s a really big plus when you’re traveling.”

She also insisted that not exactly calling her bold. “You are only brave if you do what you fear. I’m fearless when it comes to the physical, which is completely different,” she said.

Her debut book, Full Tilt (1965), was billed as a journey “from Ireland to India”, but more accurately, it was a travelogue from Dunkirk, France, to Delhi. She conceived the trip after she received a bicycle and a satin for her 10th birthday, but kept her plan to herself, she wrote, “avoiding the tolerable amusement it might cause my elders.” I didn’t want to be reassured that it was a fleeting whim, because I was quite sure that one day would cycling to India.

She began a self-financed journey…

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