Rain that is Absolute, Maginificent and Frightening: Heinrich Boll’s Ireland
Melville House included Heinrich Boll’s Irish Journal in their book bundle for Saint Patrick’s Day. Boll’s book includes a wonderful sentence about Irish rain: ‘The rain here is absolute, magnificent, and frightening. To call this rain bad weather is as inappropriate as to call scorching sunshine fine weather.’
Irish Journal covers many places, including my current home place in Limerick where Boll described the Shannon rushing along under old bridges: ‘this river was too big, too wide, too wild for this gloomy little town’. Along with the river Shannon, the image of the ‘snow white milk bottle’ throughout the city lingered with Boll after he left Limerick.
But it was in Achill that Heinrich Boll would make his Irish home in 1950s Ireland, in a cottage not far from the Deserted Village where he once visited for five hours and where ‘in ossified hedges fuchsia hung blood-red blossoms’. He was mesmerised by the ‘skeleton of a village’ that seemed to him like a body without hair, eyes, or flesh or blood.