A Newry born man has published a book documenting the lesser travelled roads of Ireland.

David Rice's wonderful photography illustrates his book 'The Little Roads of Ireland - where they might lead you and what you might find there' and his former hometown and counties of Armagh, Down and Louth are featured prominently.

The Little Roads of Ireland
The Little Roads of Ireland

From the Drumalane Road in Newry originally, 85 year old David recalls his father was the manger of Newry distillers Duncan Alderdice & Co. "He was nicknamed 'Count Rice' around Newry, I'm not to sure why, I think he was a very well dressed man" David says.

With a life spanning nine different decades so far David has had a remarkable life.

David attended the Christian Brothers School in Newry untill he was 13 years of age. He was also a member of Sixth Down Catholic Boy Scouts and as he says himself  "The best experience of my boyhood years was my two years with the scouts"

At 13 David was sent off to Clongowes Wood College, a boarding school in Kildare.

Cousins he remembers locally include the Stokes and Dublin Road O'Callaghan's. Also good friends Irwin Major, the Boyles and Jimmy Hollywood who's father owned a pub at the bottom of Bridge Street in Newry.

As he says "I've lovely memories of them all." although he rarely gets back to Newry with the very long drive from Killaloe where he lives now "The most beautiful part of Ireland" making it difficult.

David took up photography at the age of 16 at Clongowes and adds "I've never stopped ever since" He remembers his first camera, a Kodak Box Brownie won in a newspaper contest. The roll of film could take eight pictures, a far cry from his digital Nikon of today! In his younger years he managed to get some photography training from Newry's very own Duffner Bros.

Today he carries his camera with him everywhere he goes.

When he was growing up there was no car. "We never really got to know the little roads, like the back roads to Warrenpoint"

He recalls a few years ago driving up a road behind Dromalane. He got stuck in a ditch and seeing a man tossing hay over a hedge asked him could he help. "We got chatting and he said where are you from. I said I'm from around here actually, I left here many years ago. 'What's your name' he said. Rice I said. 'Are you anything to David Rice' - I am David Rice! He was one of the Moores."

David joined the Dominican order becoming a Dominican priest but left to marry about 1974.

Living in the USA he worked as a Photojournalist for several newspapers and covered things like the eruption of Mount St Helens  in 1980 and the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

There followed an invite back to Ireland to take over the Rathmines School of Journalism (DIT) where he remained Director for 18 years.

From David returned to Ireland every chance he got he spent photographing the little roads of Ireland adding "When I lived abroad I used to long for them because for me that was what I was brought up with around Newry."

Recalling the great age or rail in Newry David says "When I was a kid I remember the two trains, one to Greenore and one to Warrenpoint, one had white carriages and the other had brown carriages. I often travelled on them to Greenore and Warrenpoint to swim"

A road in South Armagh. Photograph: David Rice
A road in South Armagh. Photograph: David Rice

Documenting the Little Roads

The Little Roads of Ireland is a passion thirty years in the making for David and it documents his travels around the lesser know roads of the Irish countryside.

The 160 glossy pages contains categories from "What you might meet along the way" to "Pilgrim Paths and Sacred Places" to "The grip of winter" to "Grass up the middle" illustrated with photographs of wildlife, holy wells, the varied seasons and lesser used roads that always lead somewhere ...

All the images depict scenes we all encounter every day but most of us don't stop to capture them. For this alone it's an extraordinary and fascinating book and one that's hard to put down. David accompanies his photographs with his musings and insights into everything from the peacefulness of country roads to patterns found in nature.

"Without these roads we would never get to see the hidden Ireland. The origins of these little roads are varied. Since Ireland was never part of the Roman Empire, the stone-paved roman roads were never here. In past centuries apart from the five principal highways (slighe) there were side roads (tógraite) which were sometimes tolled, and cow roads - essentially tracks made by cows, or for cows.Hence the Gaelic name for a road, bother which comes from the word bó, a cow"

David has already authored ten books and it's very easy to get the impression that another project is just around the corner!

The Little Roads of Ireland is available from all good book shops or MENTORBOOKS.IE

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