‘Sláinte,” says Dervla Murphy, settling back into her armchair, her pint raised aloft. We are in the bohemian study of her home in the centre of Lismore, County Waterford. Home is actually a collection of unconnected buildings adjoining a cobbled courtyard that once formed the historic town’s marketplace. We are enjoying the great Irish travel writer’s favourite tipple: beer. “Lovely. Lovely,” she says, taking a sip. “Now, off you go.”
She is referring to the start of our interview, I assume, and not peremptorily instructing me to leave – though with Dervla, it seems, you cannot always be sure. She has a reputation for plain speaking, for her no-nonsense approach to life. She dislikes being quizzed by journalists and audiences with her are infrequent.