The Accidental Pilgrim


There are an awful lot of books around about the journey to Santiago de Compostela in particular, and pilgrimages in general; and let’s be quite truthful a lot of them are rather average. But one that stood out from the crowd for me was David Moore’s The Accidental Pilgrim which was published in 2004 as a paperback by Hodder Headline Ireland, and is available in both the UK and US. The serendipitous path that links these posts meant that I bought this book in the departures lounge at Stansted Airport en route to the Danish Thread

Subtitled 'Travels with a Celtic Saint', The Accidental Pilgrim is the story of a 1500 mile bike ride by the author from Bangor in Northern Ireland to Bobbio in northern Italy via France and Switzerland. The journey follows in the footsteps of the Irish missionary Saint Columbanus who made the journey in the 6th Century. (Which coincidentally, and linked to other threads, was around the time that Gregorian Chant was emerging as the official music of the Christian Liturgy, in fact Columbanus took issue with Pope Gregory - who is incorrectly credited with formalising chant, hence 'Gregorian Chant' - in 600 over the calculation of the date of Easter). Although Saint Columbanus’ missionary work on mainland Europe ended under something of a cloud, within 50 years of his death there were over 100 foundations with ties to the Columbanian mother houses of Luxeuil in France and Bobbio in Italy.


In his book dot com escapee David Moore manages to balance scholarship (he is a graduate of Cambridge and Trinity College, Dublin, but wears his academic background lightly) with readability, while managing to avoid the leaden ‘I am a dumb traveller, and these are the dumb things that happened to me’ style of humour regularly served up by Bill Bryson, namesake Tim Moore, and so many others (although US readers, and non-football fans like me will be left puzzled by the numerous references to Roy Keane). The book also manages to avoid the trap of simply being a diary of places, journeys and punctures. In this his first book Moore manages to include enough personal detail to make the author as well as the journey come alive, and that is a difficult thing to achieve.


What makes the book even more noteworthy is the web content that is linked to it. There is a really useful book web site of related material. In particular it is a brilliant idea putting the original proposal for the book on the site. This is a first class example of a published first time author using the web to share his experiences. David Moore also has a personal web site which is well worth a visit. (See also his blog).

The Accidental Pilgrim is a great read. It is also a first class example of the benefits of adding value to a conventional book by supplementing it with additional and dynamic online material. Recommended, and if you want to find out more about the book click here to read the first two chapters online, and for free.

The Accidental Pilgrim is a rare kind of book as it provides more than a great read, it also makes you think with words like the following......

Columbanus wrote "Therefore let this principle abide with us, that on the road we so live as travellers, as pilgrims, as guests of the world."
Maybe you should enjoy the journey on the road of life wherever it takes you. It's a powerful way to live, as a guest of the world.
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Anonymous said…
I just visited your blog - excellent and fascinating!


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