'Bicycle Diaries' is the personal account of Paul Shannon's journey around Ireland on two wheels. The 1,800-mile trip begins and ends in Clonakilty, Co Cork and moves clockwise around the country, taking in Dingle to Donegal, Crossmolina to Kylemore Abbey and Derry to Dublin along with many places in between.
Shannon finds many stumbling blocks around the country, including cars, motorcyclists and lively Labradors and meets all manner of locals and visitors in every town or village he passes through.
His writing is very funny and he brilliantly outlines the initiative he had to demonstrate when finding somewhere to put up his tent and cook his daily meals over the course of the 40-day journey.
The humour he finds in every adventure is infectious and Shannon is well versed in expressing himself and describing his antics, whether they happen in relative civilisation or out in the middle or nowhere.
As part of his journey, he takes the time to ask those he meets if they think there will ever be a united Ireland. The answers are mixed and in some ways typical of the area of the country the question is asked. Certainly, both sides of the divide are equally given a voice. However, in the greater scheme of things, this avenue of exploration becomes secondary to the trip.
He and the reader do come away with a sense of how much Ireland has changed in recent years, but how much it has still remained the same socially and culturally. Instead, he creates a vision of a different 'divide' - that of old Ireland and new Ireland.
'Bicycle Diaries' is a great read with plenty of laughs along the way. It might even encourage people to get out and see more of their country - although whether they do it like Shannon did is entirely up to them.