Bulfin: Rambles In Eirinn

Pdf Bulfin, William, Rambles In Eirinn, Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son Ltd, 1915
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Rambles In Eirinn by William Bulfin (1864-1910) is a description of the people and places of Ireland written in 1902. Bulfin travelled around the country on bicyle and his travelogue gives a vivid picture of Irish town and country life just after the turn of the 20th century. The book is based on a collection of articles, Bulfin wrote for Irish nationalist newspapers include Sinn Fein and The United Irishman as well as a Buenos Aires newspaper called The Southern Cross.

In 1902, Bulfin returned from Argentina to his native Ireland and rode around the country on a bicycle made in Wexford. The result was a travelogue published in 1907. It features chance encounters with rogues who populated the rural areas, descriptions of the land and various agricultural activities, historical sites and the legends and folklore of the peasants.

At the turn of the 20th century Ireland had just experienced the end of the Land War and agrarian reforms which saw the demise of the Anglo-Protestant landlord system. Most of the land was then owned by a rising Irish Catholic middle class and this demographic would be responsible for the revolutionary activity between 1916-1923 that would result in Irish independence and bitter civil war. Bulfin's descriptions in which he voices his bias against the colonial order give a fascinating insight into a society that was on a knife-edge. Bulfin, was a nationalist and a friend of Arthur Griffth but he would not live to see the goals of Irish nationalism realised.

Bulfin had an intimate knowledge of the Irish landscape and the historical importance of places such as Tara, the Skryne Valley, Vinegar Hill and other sites. For him these places were sacred ground as evidence of an Irish civilisation that existed prior to British rule and of the long Irish struggle for freedom and independence.

Bulfin describes meeting a beggar, saving hay and turf, travelling by jaunting car, staying in guesthouses and the wet weather. He laments deforestation, shows his contempt for the gentry and satires the British administration of the country which he believed did not look after the interests of the country. The book is nostalgic for an Ireland that is passing away and beyond the experience of emigrants like himself in the Americas and elsewhere who left the old country behind.

William Buflin was born in Co. Offaly and went to school in Birr and Banagher. A maternal uncle was Father Vincent Grogan, a provincial for the Passionist Fathers in Argentina where Bulfin and his brother Peter arrived in 1884. He became a rancher on the pampas or grasslands and identified with the life of the gauchos or cowboys. However in 1902 he left with much regret to live in Buenos Aires and began to write sketches about Ireland which were popular with fellow expatriate readers of The Southern Cross. He soon became both the proprietor and editor of the newspaper.

Following Bulfin's death in 1910, his son Eamon was involved in the 1916 Easter Rising and was appointed as a representative to Argentina by the Irish republican leader Eamon De Valera. Bulfin's daughter Catalina married Sean McBride, an leading 20th century Irish republican who was the son Maud Gonne and Major John MacBride who was executed for his part in the 1916 rebellion.


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