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Heinrich Boll and Ireland

Gisela Holfter
Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Boll did not come very often to Ireland in the last fifteen years before his death, nor write much about it anymore, the country was arguably always close to his heart.44 A biographer who came to his house in Cologne in 1976 noted a model of his Achill cottage on his study desk,45 and in the replica version of his last study in the Central Library of Cologne an enlarged photo of himself in Ireland has pride of place on the wall. In a poignant letter to an Irish schoolgirl shortly before his death, Boll emphasises that it was mainly health reasons that prevented him for a long period from visiting Ireland, but when he returned (in 1983) he found it was as beautiful and lovely as always, especially the way in which people engaged with children, adding that he was accompanied by some of his family, including his granddaughter. He reiterates that he never wanted to settle in Ireland permanently and therefore never did "leave Ireland". The following sentence expresses his lifelong emotional attachment to Ireland: 'In meinem Innern verlassen kann ich es nie', which could be translated as 'In my heart I can never leave it'.46