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On to New Frontiers

Great travel resources at NCL

Read in Ned | May 25, 2018

By Roberta Brown-Jones

This will be my last Read in Ned column as I’ll be leaving the library at the end of May. Since one of my reasons for leaving is to have more freedom to indulge in my wanderlust, I thought it appropriate to encourage everyone to take advantage of the great travel resources available through NCL’s print collection and our e-resources in Overdrive and 3M. If a trip into town isn’t convenient, it’s always fun to be able to get psyched for upcoming destinations with e-materials available from the comfort of home.

My husband and I will be taking a trip to Ireland in the fall, a place we’ve never visited before. In preparation, I decided to download both a standard travel guide and a memoir of a man who moved his family to Cork, Ireland, in order to escape the doldrums of midlife in America. I figured that Rick Steves’ Ireland 2014 will provide us with background and logistical information and David Monagan’s Jaywalking with the Irish will furnish insights gleaned from actually living in Ireland.

Monagan’s book highlights both his family’s initial enchantment with Ireland and the realities of being an outsider in a foreign country. From the mundane necessities of lining up good educational institutions for his three children, finding work, dealing with the weather, and keeping the family unit happy, Monagan learns to navigate Ireland over time.

As usable takeaways, I picked up a few bits of Irish lingo: potato chips are called “crisps,” a stove surface is called a “hob,” and the word café is pronounced “calf.” Other insights warn of the “Calcutta-like” traffic jams of Dublin, which is where we’ll be spending a lot of our time–best to go in with our eyes wide open before feeling disappointment at that first impression.

Monagan honestly portrays how one’s romantic vision of a place visited as a young person (he went to Dublin’s Trinity College as an undergraduate student) transmutes into a more clear-eyed view as “progress” takes hold of a beloved place. You really can’t go back. Countries change over time, sometimes, as in Ireland’s case, due to newfound wealth that causes a loss of some of an area’s quaintness. Monagan voices his disappointment at the material items and services increasingly marketed in order to create new, higher-priced “needs,” erasing some of Ireland’s uniqueness.

In addition, Ireland is not immune to the global issues arising from growing populations of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Ireland, like many countries across the globe, is reckoning with the realities of the influx of people seeking asylum or a better life in juxtaposition with native people on the lower rungs of the social strata feeling fearful that their slice of the pie will be taken.

Monagan’s descriptions of the geography are more uplifting than reading about Ireland’s political and social problems as the land takes over his literary imagination. His descriptions of County Cork is the appetite-whetting stuff every traveler needs for an upcoming trip with its “arthritic long fingers of stone probing the wild Atlantic to the west” as “scalloped bays and craggy promontories undulate and switch directions and moods.” These words convey the sense of wildness and uniqueness that make exploring new areas exciting.

Monagan has another book due out in November 2018 titled, Ireland Unhinged, which will be a more in-depth exploration of Ireland’s “boom-to-bust extravaganza.” The book release will be after our return from Ireland, so I’ll be anxious to compare our perceptions to his.

Even though I’ll no longer be working in the library, I’ll still take advantage of our wonderful local library as a patron. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all of our community of library users, so I hope to see many of you during my frequent visits to NCL.

Roberta Brown-Jones is a Library Assistant at the Nederland Community Library.

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