You may have already heard the sad news. But for those who haven’t…
Dervla Murphy has died, aged 90.
Her journey ended peacefully at home, with her daughter Rachel by her side.
Old age was finally catching up to her. She continued to travel well into her 80s, but she wasn’t getting around very well in recent years.
She never lost her curiosity, though, or her sharpness.
I admired many things about Dervla…
Her uncompromising honesty, and her ability to endure physical discomfort without complaint.
Her curiosity, which was in many ways her life’s compass, and her determination to go to a place and see things for herself.
Her kindness to animals.
Her ability to travel cheaply, with very little money, and as often as possible on foot.
And the way that she lived according to her own preferences, simply, with no desire to hoard material things or to accumulate money for money’s sake.
She traveled at a time of great change, and saw tribal societies like Afghanistan and Ethiopia just before the outside world arrived and transformed them forever.
And she came back to her unheated stone home in Lismore, Ireland and sat down at her desk to tell us what she saw.
There’ll never be another like Dervla.
I’m told that the conversation we had in December for my podcast is her last recorded interview.
You can listen to it on Personal Landscapes if you’re interested, and on iTunes and all the usual places.
I’m sorry we weren’t able to continue it in person over beers.
Dervla’s journey has ended, as all journeys must. But her stories live on.
Long may they be in print.