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Recently, we’ve had several blogposts on “airde an chompáis” (Thuaidh, Theas, Thoir, Thiar). One of the most dramatic examples I know of that involved “going east” (ag dul soir) and “coming from the west” (ag teacht aniar) is Dervla Murphy’s amazing account of her 1963 bicycle journey entitled Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, published in 1965. I had the good fortune to be given a copy of this book when I was about 15, and I devoured it!
Today’s blogpost will include a bit of biographical information (faisnéis bheathaisnéiseach – a bit of a mouthful of syllables, nach ea?) about Dervla Murphy, a bit about her route (a bealach), some background (cúlra) about the bicycle itself, and a several ways to translate the phrase “full tilt,” depending on the context (ar an gcomhthéacs).
Rugadh Dervla Murphy sa bhliain 1931 i Lios Mór, Co. Phort Láirge. Bhí post ag a hathair mar leabharlannaí an chontae. Fuair sí a céad rothar (é athláimhe) ar a deichiú lá breithe agus thug a seanathair atlas athláimhe di ar an lá céanna. Comharthaí an tsaoil a bheadh aici! D’fhreastail sí ar an Ursuline Convent (St. Angela’s School) go dtí go raibh sí ceithre bliana déag d’aois. D’fhág sí an scoil sa bhliain sin le bheith ag tabhairt aire dá máthair (a raibh airtríteas réamatóideach uirthi).
Fuair a máthair bás sa bhliain 1962 agus ansin bhí Dervla saor le bheith ag taisteal. Shocraigh sí go rachadh sí ar rothar go dtí an India. The rest, as they say, is history, specifically, travel writing history. Agus inniu? Tá Dervla Murphy ina cónaí i Lios Mór fós. De réir an ailt fúithi sa Vicípéid, sa bhliain á cúig mhadra agus trí chat aici. Fad m’eolais, bíonn sí ag scríobh fós; seo teideal déanach dá cuid: Between River and Sea: Encounters in Israel and Palestine (2015).
A Bealach ó Éirinn go dtí an India
Seo cuid de na tíortha a ndeachaigh sí tríothu. An aithníonn tú iad go léir? An Fhrainc (Dunkirk, ar dtús), an (Iar)Iúgslaiv, an Tuirc, an Iaráin, an Afganastáin, an Phacastáin, agus ar ndóigh, an India í féin (Deilí Nua mar cheann scríbe).
Rozinante, an Rothar
Ba rothar fir (“Armstrong Cadet”) é. Trí ghiar a bhí aige ar dtús ach bhain Dervla an t-aistreoir slabhra (derailleur) de mar shíl sí go mbeadh an turas rógharbh dó. Seacht bpunt is tríocha an meáchan a bhí sa rothar.
Many of us will recognize ‘Rozinante’ as the name of Don Quixote’s horse, actually spelled “Rocinante” in Spanish. It has a complex etymology of its own, based on the Spanish word ‘rocin‘ (a workhorse, a rough man, etc.) but I’m not sure how deeply Dervla examined the “sanasaíocht” in choosing this name. Details can be found in the Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocinante).
I was curious to find out if Dervla still owns “Rozinante.” I assume yes, but I didn’t find much definitive online, except what I noted above. At first I was surprised to see various sites offering “Rozinante for sale.” Turns out it’s a popular name for boats and there are numerous references to a yacht (“luamh“) named Rozinante. B’fhéidir in ómós do Roz an rothar? Úinéirí ina móidíní Dervla Murphy? Nó an bhfuil cuid acu níos sine ná ár Rozinante-sa? Ómós don ur-Rozinante i scéal Don Quixote? Nó b’fhéidir don dá Rozinante. Bhuel, is tionscadal do lá na coise tinne é an taighde sin.
Agus faoi dheireadh, an chuid dheireanach den bhlag seo, aistriúcháin éagsúla ar “full tilt”
An additional thought that may have been in Dervla’s mind when thinking up the name for her first book could have been “tilting at windmills,” as Don Quixote did in fact do while astride Rozinante. Perhaps some of Dervla’s friends and relatives may have thought her journey was equally impractical (míphraiticiúil) and foolhardy (meargánta). But interestingly, the Irish phrases for the concept of “tilting at windmills” do not refer to “tilting” (jousting) or windmills (muilte ghaoithe). The two choices are:
Ba shaothar in aisce é sin aici, she was tilting at windmills, lit. That was work in vain at her i.e. that was useless/fruitless work for her
Ba ag cur catha ar choinlíní a bhí sí ansin, she was tilting at windmills, lit. It was putting battle on stubble (or “cornstalks”) she was there.
So those are some key points about Dervla Murphy, her fascinating life and travels. I hope it will inspire you to read some of her many books or the many interviews with her. SGF — Róislín
P.S. And by the way, regarding the question “Cén bhliain?,” I’ve heard both styles of structuring the sentence. One would be with “Cén bhliain a ndeachaigh …?” and the other with “Cén bhliain a chuaigh …?” I learned the first way. And my “Google-fight-ish” results were: a ndeachaigh, 60 vs. a chuaigh, 2. But the two looked like good solid Irish writing, as did many of the 60. So the jury is still out on that one, at least as far as we’re concerned here. Or as might be said in Irish, tá sé sin idir dhá cheann na meá i gcónaí (lit. that’s still between the two heads/ends of the scale). Barúil ar bith agat ar an bpointe gramadaí sin?
Naisc d’iarbhlagmhíreanna faoi airde an chompáis:
Saying ‘East’ and ‘West’ in Irish, or, de réir an tseanfhocail, ‘Soir gach siar, faoi dheireadh thiar’ (le Róislín) https://blogs.transparent.com/irish/saying-east-and-west-in-irish-or-de-reir-an-tseanfhocail-soir-gach-siar-faoi-dheireadh-thiar/
Saying ‘North’ and ‘South’ in Irish (A Follow-up to the Blogpost on North and South Korea) Posted by róislín on Apr 28, 2018 in Irish Language
Agus maidir leis an rothar ‘Roz’ (Rozinante) féin: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.bicycles.tech/QnY09W3lyok
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