Here recaptured, after a journey through Ireland, are the very elusive qualities which go to make up that rich-poor land. O'Faclain's focus is on the Ireland of the people, the small towns, and the personalities of these, from Kilkenny to Cork, Galway to Londonderry to Belfast. Casual encounters in pubs with local notables or priests or shopkeepers fill these pages, pages which are alternately gay or nostalgic but consistently realistic. He portrays a country struggling to find a formula of life as between the old traditions and the new -- a country caught in ""the dead tradition of nationalism gone stale and religion gone sour"", but a country still vital in spirit, in its legends and music, pride and individualism. And underneath is his great feeling for the native land which he commemorates in his soft toned, melodic prose.