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THE PIPES ARE CALLING: Our Jaunts Through Ireland by Niall Williams & Christine Breen (Soho Press: $9.95, illustrated).

July 07, 1991|Charles Solomon

In this third volume of personal recollections, Williams and Breen, an Irish-American couple who left a New York apartment for a cottage in the village of Kiltumper, continue their search for the essence of the Irish nation. They find that contemporary Ireland presents a series of contrasts: the cozy warmth of a homey guest house near the center of troubled Belfast; trash strewn along the shore of the historic island of Inisheer; the melancholy sound of bagpipes amid the traffic of increasingly modernized cities. "Here, in the low plaintive music of the pipes, was all the history and geography of Ireland mingled, here the windy mountain pass in Kerry, the desolate road in Connemara, the man in the rain mist walking home after the cows, the woman in the headscarf forking hay in the meadow." However, their impressions would make more interesting reading if they didn't feel compelled to describe every adorable action of their adopted 2-year-old daughter--the prose equivalent of passing around baby pictures at a party.

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