This gets 3 stars for dumb bravado and goodwill. In their sixties, Newby and his wife return for several bike trips across Ireland. It's not enough that Newby rides a mountain bike packed with books clocking in at nearly 100 pounds, but they also do it despite gale force winds in Irish winter. I've been in Ireland in winter. I remember the winds. I didn't have the temerity to ride a bike around in that grim, sunless setting. They both get blown off their bikes into a ditch on one of their first rides. Newby just seems odd. Wanda I want to marry myself.
Ireland seems like a very different place in 1986. A referendum in favour of divorce fails, two widely witnessed moving statues and a pilgrimages to St. Patrick's mountain still fill the papers, and Newby describes crowds of turf cutters working on a winter's day.
It wouldn't be surprising if an Irish winter accounts for how few sustained contacts with locals are reported. But it's more that Newby is on a mission to build a list of places visited, without much added. It being winter, not many seem open or Newby can't find them. I'll bet Irish winters break a lot of spirits. Once he comes on a really excellent and rare experience, such as an animal fair near Ennis, his brief description is missing most of the magic from his memories of islanders on a similar trip 20 years ago. It is, in fact, the excellent, concise histories which make this readable. Still, he lived 20 years longer, so the madness didn't seem to slow him down.