Lovely Is The Lee

Today I finished reading

This is the jacket of this book, published in 1944, and consequently bearing a notice that it is produced in conformity with (wartime) authorised economy standard. It is, however of more pleasing and longer lasting materials than trade publications of today.

Here is the front board and the title page.

The Lee of the title is the river running through the city of Cork, the author’s birthplace.

Defying classification, this work is a series of memoirs, a ramble through Ireland’s history, myth, and legend; a splendid description of flora, fauna, and particularly avifauna that he encounters on his travels by foot, boat, and motor vehicle; along the way he relates tales told by people with whom he engages, and such stories of his own. Rather like the engaging stories of blogger Paol Soren, these tales are clearly a mix of fact and fiction as a vehicle for conveying his points.

With a comprehensive knowledge of natural history, a superb grasp of language, and an ability to present dialogue such as we hear the vernacular lilt, a keen eye for detail and an ability to depict this in both flowing prose and

superb wood engravings, Gibbings has presented us with another bucolic gem.

Above all it is a paean to the land of his birth after many years’ absence.

This evening Jackie produced another marvellous beef pie with fresh vegetables. I drank more of the Shiraz, and no-one else did.


    1. I was struck by the way he manages to keep it firmly in the first person without overusing “I” at the beginning of sentences. The reader is almost unaware they are being “told” the story and is simply carried along seeing the scene through his eyes. And in that vein, he is a master at “show, don’t tell” with his skillful use of character description mingled with dialogue. I could learn a lot from this writer.

  1. You’ve done an outstanding effort of scanning and reproducing so many pages from the book Derrick, I shall study them all in due course …

    1. Only in Clubs or Associations like the Folio Society or the Limited Editions Club. Thanks very much, Pat

  2. The care that went into illustrating narrations such as this has disappeared with the easy access to photographs – or dispensed with altogether. Having reread “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens and then looking at these illustrations, I couldn’t help feeling that the beautiful, detailed descriptions of the swamp life (birds, fish, plants, shells and fungi) would have been enhanced by such detailed drawings.

  3. Religion – so often the root of all evil! The illustrations are wonderful.
    I admire your patience in scanning all those pages!

  4. The book seems fascinating and the illustrations are marvelous. Scanning all of those pages must have been quite a fete, and thank you for sharing them, Derrick.

  5. Looks like something I would love to read…maybe in the new year. My weeks have become so busy lately and it looks like it will not slow down till the end of the year.
    I will save it for later.

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