This is both a travel book and a search for nineteenth-century origins.
Christopher Koch had two Irish great-grandmothers who arrived in Van Diemen's Land in the 1840s: one a Protestant gentlewoman, the other a Catholic servant girl transported as a convict. In July 2000 he travelled to Ireland with his friend Brian Mooney, the Irish folksinger and painter, to find traces of these ancestors - and also to discover how much remained of traditional Ireland as the nation enjoyed its economic boom, putting the past behind it.
In the West and Tipperary and Waterford, where Brian Mooney had many musician friends, the past was very much alive. And in pubs where the old rebel ballads are still sung, Koch talked to passionate supporters of Sinn Fein, discovering the bitterness that remained unhealed as the factions in Ulster sought a final resolution.