The Guardian

Empire wove together the histories of Ireland and India – and of my family | Ian Jack

In the lanes of County Cork, I found unexpected reminders of my great-grandfather’s military travels• Ian Jack is a Guardian columnist
Illustration by Matt Kenyon

County Cork is full of twisting little lanes, lined at this season with steep banks of wild roses, foxgloves and fuchsia; and last week I got lost in them. First the road narrowed, then it grew a strip of grass down the middle, and eventually turned into a rough gravel track that climbed steeply and turned sharply into what looked like the remains of a farmyard, where it stopped. As I started on a three-point turn, a dog began to bark and a figure appeared, a man in late middle age, who by the state of him looked to have spent an entire life among cattle, manure and straw. He was smiling.

“You’ll have taken the wrong road?”

A long conversation began. He said the same thing several times – if I wanted the Kilcrohane

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