Landscape as Witness - Field Trip: Day 6
The goal for today was to explore the site of a village in Oughtmama, which supposedly could have been deserted during the time of the famine. Following the map that I had acquired from the tourist office in Ballyvaughan, I made my way down towards Bellharbour. According to the map, I needed to continue passed the Bellharbour turn-off, head on in the direction of Kinvara, and take a right up a marked trail after a kilometre or two. This right turn alluded me (as can be seen from the tracking map below), and eventually I had to call into a nearby house to ask for directions.
The owner of the house was very helpful, and pointed me in the right direction straight away. When I mentioned that I was searching for the site of an old village she seemed unsure, but confirmed that there certainly were ruins up that way. She was also able to give me the name of a local who should be able to aid in me in my research, an elderly man from New Quay who has great knowledge of the area and its history.
Upon finding the allusive right turn, I began cycling up towards the valley where the village was supposedly located. The trail is mainly used by tractors, so the terrain quickly became near impossible to cycle on. Eventually I arrived at the valley in question, locked my bike to a nearby tree, and consulted the map.
I was definitely in the right place, as clear walled boundaries could be seen up the side of the valley that corresponded with the boundaries shown on the map. The location of the site also fit in with the theory that it had been deserted during the famine. Many Irish peasants at the time lived up in the mountainous regions in harsh conditions surrounded by barren land, while the wealthy enjoyed the fertile soil down below. However, very little remains of the village itself. The boundary walls still stand firm, and even the foundations of an old mill can be seen, but these appear to be the sole remnants. Every other structure has seemingly been devoured by the karst landscape, taking the history of the village with it.