hidden europe

Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Magazine articles marked with the symbol are available in full-length for online reading (provided you are a subscriber to the printed magazine and have created a member account). All texts with the source "Letter from Europe" or "Notes" are available for online reading for every visitor to this website.

Explore the Scottish islands and the Clyde coast with Caledonian MacBrayne. A CalMac ferry at Largs in the Firth of Clyde (photo © Robert Flynn / dreamstime.com).
Letter from Europe

Ferry links: Britain and Ireland

  • 19 Feb 2016
There is much ado in British and Irish waters these days, with so many very appealing ferry routes, but also a few services slipping from the schedules. In this Letter from Europe, we give an overview of some interesting new ...
Letter from Europe

Romantic Ireland is not dead and gone

  • 28 Sep 2013
It was one hundred years ago this month that WB Yeats' poem September 1913 was published in a Dublin newspaper. The poem is more than merely a lament for Irish separatist and bold Fenian John O'Leary. It is a sharp critique of the trend in Ireland ...
Letter from Europe

Noli timere

  • 20 Sep 2013
It is again that time of year when I find my hands peppered by thorn pricks. Blackberries mark the month. Wondrous little taste bombs protected by thorns, treasure for scavengers. There's nothing common about the common blackberry: rubus ...
Letter from Europe

The North begins inside

  • 17 Jun 2013
"There is not much to be said for Reykjavik." That, at least, was the opinion of WH Auden when he arrived in Iceland in June 1936. A few weeks later, Irish poet Louis MacNeice joined Auden and the two men took to the hills of Iceland's wild ...
Letter from Europe

A season of grace

  • 29 Mar 2013
It is Good Friday again, a day that jolts much of Europe out of its regular routine. It is a day for pilgrimages - some avowedly secular, others more religious in character. Large crowds from the Saarland region of Germany will flock over the ...
Letter from Europe

A time for blessings

  • 1 Feb 2013
Today is Candlemas Eve, definitively marking the end of the Christmas season in western Europe. Modern custom in secular Europe is often to dismantle Christmas decorations well before the Epiphany, but in many churches across the continent cribs ...
Letter from Europe

Look west

  • 31 Oct 2012
The West is inscribed on our imagination. It is where we watch the sunset, and thus the cardinal point that ushers in the evening, bringing promise of rest and sleep. And yet the West means other things too. For generations of Americans, the West ...
Letter from Europe

Flying can still be fun

  • 11 May 2012
Flying has generally ceased to be fun. The only certainty about much modern air travel is that it will be boring. Gone are the days when Dakotas battled against headwinds and made unscheduled landings at rough airstrips in offbeat parts of Europe. ...
Letter from Europe

A tale of two Eltons

  • 29 May 2011
You could easily miss Elton. The train from Dublin to Cork speeds past Elton. You hardly catch a glimpse of the cluster of houses that make up this little Irish village. When the grandly titled Great Southern and Western Railway built a line ...
Magazine article

Border assets: travels on the frontier
  

Borders have become something of a rarity in modern Europe. We can now travel by car from northern Norway to the Mediterranean without ever once having to show a passport. Political frontiers have faded, yet cultural frontiers remain. We reflect on ...
Magazine article

Scotland: fast ferries
  

Kintyre Express, the shipping offshoot of Scottish bus company West Coast Motors, has an ambitious plan to create a new fast ferry link between the Mull of Kintyre and the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland. We take a closer ...
Letter from Europe

Just a state of mind (Ireland)

  • 21 Nov 2010
The Giant's Causeway is squeezed in between Gay Byrne and God. The latter are of course by far the two most important men in Ireland - at least that's the view of literary critic Terry Eagleton who is one of the more thoughtful commentators on all ...
Magazine article

Shipping news
  

Ferries in European waters are usually ultra-reliable, but from time to time there is the odd mishap. Cruise ships and cargo ships are more prone to misadventure than regular ferries but no ship is immune. We take a look at a few journeys by ship ...
hidden europe note

False starts and flying starts

  • 1 Mar 2010
Today's the day. 1st March. St David's Day. And the day on which three start-up companies were due to launch new transport links in or around the British ...
hidden europe note

Cheap fares with twitter

  • 17 Feb 2010
The Irish long distance bus company Bus Eireann is offering special fares to users of Twitter. But we are happy to reveal the details here so that readers of the hidden europe notes can benefit from this splendid ...
Letter from Europe

Ferry updates

  • 27 Sep 2009
September will not be remembered as an easy month for ferry operators in the waters around the British Isles. With the end of the peak summer season, many ferry operators look to their books and ponder how (or even whether) they can survive the ...
Magazine article

That half a rood of sand
  

The delineation of international borders within shared waters is never easy. In Lough Foyle, where Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland both have territorial interests, the two parties have left the border undefined. hidden europe reader ...
Magazine article

Public alley 438
  

Fergal is of Europe yet not in Europe. He cannot recall with any certainty exactly why he spends each winter in Public Alley 438. But he does! hidden europe encounters a hint of Donegal in Boston's Back Bay ...
Magazine article

An icon of identity: the Faroese flag
  

Fámjin is all the better for being difficult to reach. It is a tiny place, a mere pinprick on the map of the Faroes. But Fámjin has something of the Faroese soul about it, for it here that the national flag was first flown. We look at some places ...
Magazine article

Leitrim landscapes
  

In County Leitrim, Ireland's blind bard found inspiration. Turlough O'Carolan was a composer, poet and harpist. And O'Carolan's work and life fired Paul Hadfield to weave some words about Lough Scur in ...
Magazine article

Focus on fish

Many a coastal community, and even one or two inland spots, have realised that there's no better way to promote trade and tourism than through a colourful display of freshly landed fish and other ...
Letter from Europe

The edge of Europe

  • 1 Dec 2008
To drive out to Malin Head in Donegal on a wild December day is real travel. Or, in Ireland's southwest corner, to be alone at the ancient fort at Dún Beag, feel the fierce wind sweep in over Slea Head and then dive for cover in one of Dingle's ...
Letter from Europe

Immrama festival of travel writing

  • 12 Jun 2008
Lismore is not much changed - a township that nestles gently at the foot of the Knockmealdown Mountains. Lismore carries the imprint of Ireland's ecclesiastical history. The church upon which Thackeray remarked is dedicated to St Cartagh. It is set ...
Letter from Europe

The Iza valley (Romania)

  • 23 Sep 2007
This is a stunning time of year to be in the Maramures area of Romania. And especially in the Iza valley, where russet-gold apples hang heavy in the orchards that cluster round every village, and the fields are full of distinctive haystacks - ...
Letter from Europe

Estuaries

  • 24 Jun 2007
Europe is full of fine estuaries, oftentimes ethereal spots where the waters of silty rivers mingle with the sea. Estuaries are liminal zones, places that do not quite belong to the ocean. Some of our favourite European estuaries are those ...
Letter from Europe

Heritage centres in Ireland - the Danube delta in Romania

  • 23 Apr 2006
The capacity of Ireland to create 'heritage centres' is unbounded. In a month that marks the ninetieth anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, it seemed good to check out the memorial to Eamon de Valera in the village of Brú Rí (Bruree in ...