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Dervla Murphy: freewheeling pioneer with a fierce wanderlust

The gift of a second-hand bicycle spurred a lifelong passion for the author, who died this week aged 90. Her daring trips would be an inspiration

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Dervla Murphy in 1990: ‘You’re alone where you’ve chosen to be, and must take the consequences’: Photo by Nutan/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Dervla Murphy in 1990: ‘You’re alone where you’ve chosen to be, and must take the consequences’: Photo by Nutan/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

A young Dervla Murphy with her bike in Barcelona

A young Dervla Murphy with her bike in Barcelona

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Dervla Murphy in 1990: ‘You’re alone where you’ve chosen to be, and must take the consequences’: Photo by Nutan/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

‘If visas had been needed in 1492, America would never have been discovered,” Dervla Murphy once said, describing how she disregarded the need for official documentation whenever she couldn’t come by it on her travels to “far-flungery”.

There was something irresistible about this freewheeling travel writer who was always willing to rough it in her quest to see the world from the saddle of a bicycle. She was enterprising, swashbuckling, intrepid and spontaneous. No wonder her life took her from one adventure to the next.


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