Drumcliff or Rori the Biker
Drumcliff or Rori the Biker is
a novel about Rori O’Ceallaigh, an Irish poet in his 30’s who returns to Sligo,
Northern Ireland after riding a motorcycle around the United States of America
from the years of 1968-1973. The narrative recalls his wild episodes abroad
while presenting the days now back home in Sligo, where after five years away,
“Nothing had changed. It could have been 15 or 50 years, and nothing would have
changed. The rain still made the hills green; the stones still spoke, and
Dustin McBride still sat on the last stool at the end of the bar, facing the
door, waiting for eternity to swallow him.” During his travels in America,
Rori’s resilient and aloof yet sentimental character, is at once attractive and
aggressive, his loner nature his protector. After five years of love affairs,
one serious and the rest not, he is notified that his grandmother died and that
he has inherited a mansion in Drumcliff that has been abandoned for a century.
The narrative begins with his return to Ireland and weaves from reconnecting
with the people at home and the progress of renovating the mansion to his past
adventures in America. The contrast between late 1960’s into early 1970’s
culture of hippie mania, full of love and freedom, flourishing over U.S.
conservatism, and rural Irish village traditionalism, highlighted with ancient
beliefs of folklore, (faeries and leprechauns included!) makes for a stark,
unique and entertaining read. Rori does begin to settle down at the end of the
novel, learns that his future is behind him, his past in front, solipsism is a
curse, nostalgia a blessing and community a grace.