Many thanks to everyone who sent me ideas for this blog. I needed a kick start!
It’s highly appropriate that I’m finally writing about my 6 day trip to Ireland today, because it’s St Patrick’s day. In fact, that’s probably the biggest motivating factor that’s actually made me put pen to paper – well, fingertip to laptop – or even taptop as my autocomplete prefers. As I opened said taptop’s screen this morning I was confronted with a Google drawing that neatly summed up the item that made the biggest impression on me during my visit to the Emerald Isle: ‘The Walls of Southwest Ireland.’ I’ve never seen anything like them. I mean, I’m quite familiar with limestone country. Just look at the landscape around Malham and Ingleton, villages that were favourite Sunday runs out when I was growing up just across the border in Lancashire. Those places have walls, hundreds of the, but Irish walls have holes in them. No, I don’t mean gaps where they’ve fallen down or have been knocked down by errant sheep, I mean gaps between the stones. I’m not sure that I buy the online comment which was that the farmers who cleared the land of these stones in order to provide a smoother pasture for their flocks didn’t have time or energy to cut the stones to a more geometric shape so that they would jigsaw together better. Another comment I found online was that the holes make the walls less stable so they are more likely to fall on any sheep that gives them a shove, and therefore the sheep will learn to stay away from the walls. I prefer that idea. There are even walls in the South West known as Famine walls which were constructed purely to give the starving farmers some sort of employment and hence income paid for by local church groups and benevolent landlords. These walls, which are primarily built directly onto the limestone outcrops, are really more of a repository for stone boulders. They are not really dividing anything from anything else, but they march in straights lines through the Burren landscape as though their very life depends on it. The first iMovie I
made the day after I got back was about the wonderful variety of walls and as I worked on it I immediately found myself wanting to go back to that area and focus my attention on just taking photos of walls. I was looking up something in my Alaska journal yesterday which notes that the first thing I did on my return home from that cruise was to search for a cabin there in which to spend the summer composing music, so I’m not unfamiliar with this feeling of wanting to return.