cover image Ireland, a Bicycle, and a Tin Whistle

Ireland, a Bicycle, and a Tin Whistle

David A. Wilson. McGill-Queen's University Press, $19.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-7735-1344-0

Wilson, who was born in Ireland and is now an assistant professor of Celtic studies at St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, starts his ramble near the old Belfast homestead armed only with his bicycle and tin whistle in order ``to be closer to the spirit of the place... [and] the piece.'' His venture with music turns rough as drunken Orangemen with a bent for John Denver music insist he must know ``Country Road.'' It's on to Cushendall and Johnny Joe's Pub where the session is jammed and only the magic of his tin whistle gains him entrance through a side window. As he wheels into Donegal, he begins to suffer from the dreaded ``Penile Numbness Syndrome,'' a disease well-known to the avid male cycler. Here Wilson supplies a basic, albeit hilarious, Gaelic lesson on finding the right bathroom (fir for men; mna for women). A life full of B&Bs leaves him immune to the Ulster Fry--``a veritable festival of cholesterol''--and he survives food poisoning and flat tires on his swing through the southwest. The author's comments on Irish music are delightful and erudite. Unfortunately, the book is marred by the litany of hangovers (he admits he ``travelled from Cork to Dublin in an alcoholic fog, remembering nothing'') and his incessant comments on Irish politics--particularly his sanitized version of the famine--which are simplistic with a definitive Orange bias. (Oct.)