The launch of Travels with Bertha by Paul Martin

Travels with Bertha "offers so much more of an insight to young Irish people who are now leaving for Australia than any Rough Guide or Lonely Planet...The book shows how this Australian pilgrimage, which has become a defining experience for Irish youth, is something that will always stay under their skin." Genevieve Carbery, The Irish Times

Last night at The (wonderful) Gutter Bookshop, Travels with Bertha: Two Years Exploring Australia in a 1978 Ford Stationwagon was launched! This lighthearted travelogue is the story of the real Australia, which beautifully describes the universal experience of the adventurous traveller while also providing strong historical content. 

The evening began with a reunion of sorts as Paul's family and friends  met and mingled, those he knew before, during, and after Australia. With a glass of wine in hand guests perused the photos on display from Paul's travelling days and felt either a tinge of jealousy or the beginnings of itchy feet!

The formalities began with Liberties Press Publisher Seán O'Keeffe welcoming everyone and introducing Genevieve Carbery, who kindly agreed to launch the book. Like Paul, Genevieve also spent time travelling within the vast country of Australia and could identify with his experience in a number of ways. While Paul travelled across Australia in a 1978 Ford Stationwagon called Bertha, Genevieve did so in a  'graffiti-covered, converted camper van called Saoirse'! Genevieve said that while reading Travels With Bertha she found her 'thoughts constantly racing and drifting back to memories of [her] own Australian adventures', remarking that 'names like Cairns, Coober Pedy, Katherine Gorge and Cape Tribulation...are as familiar to the ear of a whole generation of Irish people as rain-soaked places such as Bandon, Ballina, Blackrock, and Ballybunion'. 

During the recession, Ireland has lost countless young people to Australia and they have become known as the lost generation. Genevieve explained how Paul's book offers some comfort and hope in that regard as it shows how 'Irish people are everyday shaping and changing the history of a nation that is twenty-four hours away' and ultimately that nation will shape Ireland as those people one day return.

To listen to Genevieve in full, see below!


Author Paul Martin also shared a few words, expressing his thanks to all who came along and to those who made the book possible. After returning from Australia, Paul took the time to write down his experiences and memories and in the end had a full manuscript. This manuscript sat on a shelf until very recently when he heard a radio interview with a young Irishman who had emigrated to Australia due to rising unemployment rates as well as the desire for adventure. Paul was struck by how 'uncanny' his description was and so revisited his writings to 'write the book he wanted to read'. 

Some pictures from the launch: 

Ready to be launched!

Paul with his father Fred

Genevieve Carbery with Paul and the book!

Paul and his wife Barbara

Paul with fellow Liberties Press author Gerry Mullins

Sinéad (the book's designer) with Paul

Paul saying a few words...

...and signing a few copies.

Paul with fellow traveller and friend, Rob who features heavily in the book!

Bye for now,

Alice