This Road of Mine (Mo Bhealach Féin)
First published in Irish by An Gúm in 1965, Seosamh Mac Grianna’s magnificent autobiographical novel Mo Bhealach Féin is translated here for the first time into English by Mícheál Ó hAodha.
With notes of Dead as Doornails and The Ginger Man in its absurd comedy, Seosamh Mac Grianna pens his reaction to an anglicised, urbanised, post-revolution Ireland, demonstrating his talents at their peak.
This Road of Mine relates a humorous, picaresque journey through Wales en route for Scotland, an Irish counterpart to Three Men in a Boat with a twist of Down and Out in Paris and London. The protagonist follows his impulses, getting into various absurd situations: being caught on the Irish Sea in a stolen rowboat in a storm; feeling guilt and terror in the misplaced certainty that he had killed the likeable son of his landlady with a punch while fleeing the rent; sleeping outdoors in the rain and rejecting all aid on his journey. What lies behind his misanthropy is a reverence for beauty and art and a disgust that the world doesn’t share his view, concerning itself instead with greed and pettiness.
The prose is full of personality, and Ó hAodha has proved himself adept at capturing the life and spark of the writer’s style. His full-spirited translation has given the English-reading world access to this charming and relentlessly entertaining bohemian poet, full of irrepressible energy for bringing trouble on himself. As well as the undoubted importance of this text culturally, Mac Grianna is able to make rank misanthropy enjoyable – making music out of misery. The voice is wonderful: hyperbolic but sincere.