Aged 10 Dervla Murphy got a second-hand bicycle. A week later she decided that as an adult she would cycle to India- so she did. "Who Is Dervla Murphy?" does not begin with the trek- later the subject of Full Tilt, Dervla's first travel book. The new documentary searches through youth and age, home and away for the answer to its eponymous quest. It looks back to a bibliophile grandfather who opted for volumes for his library rather than new trousers to protect his modesty and forward as Dervla's only regret in encroaching age is all the books there will not be time to reread.
To describe"Who Is Dervla Murphy?" as an intimate portrait does not adequately describe the wonderful light that the documentary shines on the writer. There is intimacy borne partly of Dervla's discussions of her relationships as a mother and a daughter in all their raw emotional difficulty. There is also a vivid warmth gained from the inconsequential details of life that are shared: packing for a trip takes quarter of an hour, books are written longhand, typed then corrected by pen and typed again. Breakfast in the Murphy house is an epic affair designed to get the inconvenience of feeding oneself out of the way as soon as possible and heat and comfort are not commodities held in any great esteem.
The iron gates that lead to Dervla's market place home in Lismore appear and are mentioned in the documentary, I pass those gates at least once most days. I expect having seen "Who Is Dervla Murphy?" to change the short journey. The gates will now conjure Dervla cradling a dog, glass of dark ale alongside, glasses around neck and a filling glinting at every smile or laugh. Attending the premiére of "Who Is Dervla Murphy?" in the Heritage Centre as part of the Immrama festival was a privilege. The documentary is a wonderful accomplishment by Mixed Bag Media and the Arts Office of Waterford County Council.
"Who Is Dervla Murphy?" will be shown in Lismore Heritage Centre at 3.00pm on Sunday 13th June. Seats will be allocated on a first come first served basis. For more details please contact 058-54975.