When Christopher Koch sets out on a journey through Ireland with his friend the folksinger Brian Mooney, each is seeking an aspect of the past. Mooney is returning to a country where he spent much of his adult life, while two of Koch's great-grandmothers came from Ireland to Van Diemen's Land: one of them a convict, whose turbulent story begins this account. Koch is looking for traces of the mid-19th century: the time of the Famine, which flung the ancestors of so many Irish-Australians across the globe.
What he finds, through chance meetings in pubs with IRA supporters, encounters with musicians, and an interview with leading historian and journalist Tim Pat Coogan, is the dynamic new Ireland of today, enjoying its transformation into a leading European economy, despite the unresolved struggle in the North.
For Koch, though, the true soul of this land is to be found in the countryside, where doorways can still be seen to the different levels of the Faery Otherworld: THE MANY-COLOURED LAND. This he portrays in prose both lyrical and clear, offering rare literary pleasures to the reader.