Ryan Murdock

Writer, Traveller, Reader of Books

Latest stories

Wren Day drinking in Dingle

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Dick Mack’s in Dingle We hadn’t been walking through Dingle very long when two girls with long curling tails passed me in the street. I was surprised by this, as you might imagine. But then I began to ponder the possibilities of growing up in a place where girlfriends had tails. I mean, if that’s how they do things in Dingle, who am I to complain?  The wake of their perfume had barely...

Dingle’s ancient sites

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Squalls sweep in from the Atlantic Eric Newby wrote that the “Dingle Peninsula contains within it one of the greatest concentrations of ancient remains in Ireland.” Much of this is located at its far end, where religious ascetics shivered their way to salvation in damp stone huts whose sparseness must have accelerated their journey to the afterlife. That’s where we headed on Boxing Day — Dingle...

Christmas in an Iron Age ring fort

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Views of Kenmare Bay from the wall Life has settled in to that early January feeling of listlessness when the holidays are over, New Year motivation has fizzled out, and fresh projects are sitting on the desk but the means of starting them hasn’t yet been revealed. I guess part of me is still back in Ireland, where I’m wandering through an earlier age moistened by mists of rain. Unable to...

The Best Books I Read in 2022

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Do you have a book addiction? I’m here to make it worse. It’s that time of year when I tempt you to obliterate what remains of your savings on an out-of -control book buying bender. What can I say? It could be worse. At least you’re not spending it on commemorative spoons. I’ve got some great reads to recommend this year. As usual, I read and re-read a lot of great travel literature to prepare...

A short hike in the High Atlas

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A Christmas Day hike above Imlil We left haunted Telouet in silence, to rejoin the main road and cross the mighty Tizi-n-Tichka pass before winding our way back down to the flats in search of another route that would lead us to the High Atlas village of Imlil.  As is the way of sat nav shortcuts, we were slightly misled.  The road soon became a single lane track hugging the side of...

The mountain stronghold of Telouet

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Telouet, stronghold of the Lords of the Atlas It was time to leave the desert behind. We followed the route of camel caravans as they made their way from palm groves to mountain passes, up the winding valley of the Ounila, past Ait Benhaddou and a string of ruined casbahs, and into the foothills of the Atlas.  Our destination was Telouet, the birthplace of the Glaoui and their base of power...

Into a valley of lost casbahs

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Looking back at the route we followed We would visit many other casbahs during our stay in the oasis, but none held the peace of our rooms at Ben Moro. I finally bumped into the owner of our casbah, and asked him how a Spaniard had ended up in such a remote desert place.  “I found it twenty years ago,” he said. “I wanted to restore an old casbah. I’m sure you’ve noticed this valley is full...

Alone in a casbah

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Skoura Oasis from the roof above our rooms We found lodgings in the midst of the massive Skoura oasis, some 30km east of Ouarzazate, where we took a suite of rooms in the Kasbah Ben Moro, a mud-walled fortified 18th century dwelling surrounded by date palms that spread to the distant horizon.  We walked among the palm groves, where clean alleys were bordered by hand-patted mud walls, and...

Into the Drâa Valley

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Headed into the Drâa Valley It was in the Atlas Mountains — and beyond — where we would find the Glaoui’s most enduring traces, and so we set out in a rented car and ventured into their traditional domain.  I decided to start at the fringes and work backwards, bypassing their stronghold of Telouet and driving straight to the gateway of the desert. Aït Benhaddou The Drâa Valley is the...

The zone of insecurity

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T’hami el-Glaoui’s Marrakesh palace The dizzying chaos of the Marrakesh bazaar existed in opposition to the serenity of the riads, those old village houses that present their blank doors to the street.  From the alley, every house looks more or less the same. It’s impossible to imagine the world that exists behind such plain walls: two or more stories of wandering passageways linking...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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