Saturday, June 9, 2012


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In his twilight years, the writer John McGahern returned to the northern Irish countryside where he’d spent his boyhood to find it much as he’d left it: a land of blue lakes and sparse green fields lined by hedges that erupted in wild color every summer. McGahern, whose novels were celebrated for their elegiac depictions of rural Ireland, marveled in his 2005 memoir that Europe’s swift economic transformation had spared the landscape of his youth. “Amazingly, amid unrelenting change,” he wrote, “these fields have hardly changed at all since I ran and played and worked in them as a boy.” If McGahern, who died a year later, could see some of those fields now, “he’d be spinning in his grave,” said geographer Rob Kitchin.

 COOTEHALL, Ireland --

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