Monday 27 February 2017

Mary Kenny: Globetrotter to globesquatter

Does the allure of foreign travel pale with age?

Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny

Everyone seems to have a "bucket list" of goals they want to achieve and places they want to see before they die (or "kick the bucket", in the vernacular) but, necessarily, it grows narrower with age. "I don't want to travel just for the sake of going places," said the old chap next to me at a lunch. "I only want to go where there are people I know. Or that I have some connection with."

Maybe women, in the senior years, are more adventurous than men: there is an honourable tradition of women travellers who sallied forth to explore the world in their mature decades. The most distinguished Irishwoman in this genre, Dervla Murphy, started her great cycling treks in her 40s and has continued her intrepid travels into her 80s. The woman who put Albania on the map, Edith Durham - camping out in its rugged mountains amongst fiercely warring clans with only a mule and a native guide - was also pretty mature when she got going.

Freya Stark, another formidable female traveller, started her pioneering forays into Arabia in her 40s, and continued her travelling career into dangerous and exotic places until well into old age, dying at the age of 100.

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