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Tributes after passing of travel writer Dervla Murphy, who famously cycled from Ireland to India

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 23/05/2022 Eoghan Moloney

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to travel writer and touring cyclist Dervla Murphy who has passed away at the age of 90.

President Higgins described Ms Murphy as “Ireland’s most famous travel writer” but added that such a description “barely captures the fullness and deep understanding captured in her work”.

Ms Murphy, a native of Lismore, Co Waterford, will be missed by people throughout Ireland, in her community of Lismore and far beyond to the many places in which she travelled, Mr Higgins said.

“Her contribution to writing, and to travel writing in particular, had a unique commitment to the value of human experience in all its diversity,” the President said.

Ms Murphy published dozens of travel books but her most renowned was the 1965 book Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle.

The book documented her journey by bike through Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, which President Higgins described as “remarkable”.

My life in books: Dervla Murphy

Mr Higgins lauded Murphy for her many works “detailing her experiences in locations as varied as Northern Ireland, England, the United States, Russia, Cuba, the Himalayas, the Middle East and across Africa, always an ethical visitor she brought a vital social conscience and respect for those she wrote about”.

“She retained a strong interest in those who were suffering throughout the world even up to recent weeks and brought an insightful perspective to matters of politics, environmentalism and the crucial importance of peace,” he said.

“I would like to send my deepest condolences to her daughter Rachel, with whom she shared so many of her adventures, her grandchildren, and to all her family and friends,” Mr Higgins added.

Actor and comedian Michael Smiley said Murphy was “one of the great Irish women”.

“I am heartbroken, one of the great Irish women. I had the honour of interviewing her for my cycling series, she absolutely beguiled me. God bless Dervla Murphy,” he said.

Eland Publishing said: “Celebrating and remembering the life-force that was Dervla Murphy, who has died at home at the age of 90. Thank you for your friendship, your principled wisdom, your questing conversation and your unflinching books.”

Ms Murphy is survived by her daughter Rachel and granddaughters Rose, Clodagh and Zea.

My life in books: Dervla Murphy

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