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Round Ireland In Low Gear

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  244 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
In December 1985, veteran traveler and travel writer Eric Newby and his wife, Wanda, set off on a bicycling journey around Ireland. "We were going there, in short, to enjoy ourselves, an unfashionable aspiration in the 1980s," Newby writes with characteristic wit. It was the beginning of winter, "the dead season, as far as weather went," but the journey, with all of its en ...more
Published October 5th 1987
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This gets 3 stars for dumb bravado and goodwill. In their sixties, Newby and his wife return for several bike trips across Ireland. It's not enough that Newby rides a mountain bike packed with books clocking in at nearly 100 pounds, but they also do it despite gale force winds in Irish winter. I've been in Ireland in winter. I remember the winds. I didn't have the temerity to ride a bike around in that grim, sunless setting. They both get blown off their bikes into a ditch on one of their first ...more
Jul 02, 2009 Velvetink rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fivecats
Great read, hilarious, full of history of ire!
Firstly.... What were they 'bloddy' well thinking? Cycling round Ireland in winter - and they are no spring chickens. Absolutely mad.

Eric Newby has provided he and his wife with custom made, very heavy, over equipped mountain bikes that have 90 odd gears. He is travelling with a multitude of weighty guide books and bike tools in panniers and the amount of times they have to totally unpack and dismantle the bikes to lift them over barbed wire covered styles etc.. is ridiculous.
The best bits are
Huw Evans
Aug 27, 2011 Huw Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
It has taken me over fifty years to travel to the Emerald Isle, even though I lived within spitting distance of it for over a decade. Quiet what made Eric Newby, and his long suffering, testy, wife cycle around it I do not know but his ability to observe and record both geography and history at all levels is applied with the same zeal that he has used in much more dramatic locations. Wanda acts as a counterpoint to his enthusiasms and the results is both moving and funny.
Mar 09, 2013 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, I learned how NOT to travel around Ireland. There were some interesting parts and his writing style is quite humorous but for the most part, I was bored and miserable, just as they sounded.
Possibly more to do with the bitty pace I read it at due to it being essay season but this one dragged a little for me at times... A bit much extraneous historical detail and repetitive encounters with Oirish locals. I got the impression at times that the Newby's collective hearts weren't really in this one. Certainly Wanda's disappearance from the latter part of the adventure as she (rather sensibly) decided to cut her losses and return to England rather than plod up another rain soaked hill wi ...more
Lady Jane
I love bikes and biking. The freedom of movement. The feeling of power as you move yourself from point A to point B. I would love to bike around Ireland... I think it would be an amazing experience. Unfortunately I did not like reading about biking around Ireland... but I think that this is mostly a reaction to Newby's style of writing. He manages to write humorously at times, but most of the book is a dry list of historical moments. I wanted to like it, wanted to be charmed by his view of Irela ...more
Dec 01, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book a couple of years after my first visit to the Emerald Isle, so my enjoyment was mixed with a generous helping of nostalgia. This time around, some 25 years later, it's perhaps even more so. The thing that struck me then, and now, was the masterful way in which Newby captured the quirky nature of the country, its people, and, most especially, its weather.

There's a simple reason for the vivid greenery of Ireland: it rains. A lot. Three days out of every four when I've toured
Aug 25, 2011 Tess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Greatly enjoyed it, as Newby and his wife toured Ireland about 10 years after my husband and I spent a month rambling around the entire coastline. Though his was a hardier and HARDER journey than ours(they traveled by bike, we by rental car,we covered the same ground in spots, so it was fascinating to see what had, and what had not, changed. I think we both saw the last of old Ireland.

The book was an unexpected treat found on a friend's Goodreads list.
Derek Bridge
Must I face the fact that Newby will nowhere ever recapture the joys of his Hindu Kush?

Where lies the difference?

Hindu Kush seemed to be more about him: alien cultures (Wales (!) and Afghanistan) shine a spotlight on his Englishness.

Here, we have rain, bikes, sandwiches, mythology, dessicated history. We learn little of him and little of the Irish.
Mar 25, 2013 René rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Just couldn't get into this. For one, it started out with pages and pages of techie TMI about bikes. After that I thought it would get a little more readable. And "a little more" is right. There were just too many details and stories about really mundane stuff. I only read the first few chapters before just giving up.
Oct 07, 2009 Denise rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Its fun to read, though the style is a little wordy, a little too much detail in the locations and directions - though that might be good if I was using it as a guidebook.

It does give you a good feel for the people and the culture, and he has a great wry sense of humour.
Aug 17, 2015 Fran rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Complain, complain, complain. Bad weather, quirky bikes, didn't like the people or the food. And not even funny. Too much detail about things that weren't important and glosses over things that might have been interesting. Poor Wanda.
Not his funniest book, though there are humorous moments. Lots of historical detail, which bogs down the book slightly at times, but still a worthwhile read for Newby fans -- just don't start here if you're new to the author!
Nov 21, 2016 Mary rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I guess I was annoyed that they biked in every chapter was about bad weather and rain.
Lots of history in this book but it was too many names and a little boring.
It's from 1986 and a little dated.
Mar 09, 2012 Sheila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I laughed, I cringed, and I confirmed & reconfirmed the car rental three or four times through the course of this book. :-)
Liz Bell
Oct 01, 2010 Liz Bell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone going to Ireland must read this book! A great laugh of his adventures with Wanda .. read it before MY bike adventure to Ireland, and made it all the more real!
Ross Whamond
Mar 25, 2013 Ross Whamond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
To see Ireland through Newby's eyes is like wearing your most comfortable shoes and warmest coat.

A History of the past and soon to be.

I would go anywhere with Eric.
Dean Brodhag
Jan 12, 2009 Dean Brodhag rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Great writer, interesting parts about adventure biking, too many castles. Bailed by page 57.
Sep 01, 2015 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
very amusing. Much more engaging than I expected.
Interesting travelogue, combining stories of the pleasures and perils of biking through Ireland with sharp but affectionate descriptions of people and places. Sometimes a bit heavy on history.
Sep 02, 2012 Joan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
very engaging author -- one of the great travel writers of his time.
Rereading before a trip to Ireland, probably going to be all motorized and citified.
Paul Bauer
Paul Bauer rated it really liked it
Aug 22, 2011
Karen rated it it was ok
Mar 02, 2012
Harry Rikaart
Harry Rikaart rated it it was amazing
Apr 23, 2014
Peter rated it liked it
Dec 31, 2014
Wency rated it it was amazing
Dec 13, 2015
Joe rated it it was ok
Feb 28, 2008
Lana rated it really liked it
Nov 19, 2015
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George Eric Newby CBE MC (December 6, 1919 – October 20, 2006[1]) was an English author of travel literature.

Newby was born and grew up near Hammersmith Bridge, London, and was educated at St Paul's School. His father was a partner in a firm of wholesale dressmakers but he also harboured dreams of escape, running away to sea as a child before being captured at Millwall. Owing to his father's frequ
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“To attempt to write about Dun Aengus and bring some sort of freshness to it is rather like trying to perform a similar service for Stonehenge: so many people have attempted it before that one is tempted to give up what one is looking at is not only one of the wonders of Ireland, but of the entire Western world.” 0 likes
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