Landscape as Witness - Field Trip: Day 13
After yesterday's incident I was slightly cautious about taking my bike for a run, especially as I will require it to travel to New Quay tomorrow for another interview. Instead I decided to walk to the Glen of Clab, as I had been given the name of a person who lives around the area that might be able to help me further with my research. It was a short enough walk, just passed the Burren Perfumery en route to Slieve Carran. The glen itself has the appearance of a small oasis, surrounded by the bleak, desolate landscape of the Burren.
On arriving at the Glen of Clab, I dropped into a nearby house to ask for directions. The owner of the house just so happened to be the mother of the person I was looking for. After briefly explaining what my research was about she told me that her husband would have had a wealth of information on the subject, but had sadly passed away. She pointed me in the direction of her daughter's house, which was just across the road with a blue door and a thatched roof.
I had initially planned to just introduce myself and request to meet at some other date, as I didn't want to intrude. However, I was welcomed into the house and proceeded to chat with owner for at least a couple of hours. I was quite grateful for this as the weather outside was particularly miserable, even by the Burren's standards. The owner of the house had lived there her whole life, and now gave guided tours of the area. She informed me that I was about 20 years too late, and that the majority of the people who would have had great knowledge of the famine are now long gone. However, I was able to acquire plenty of names off her of people who could possibly help me, or at least that would know somebody who could. She claimed that the area wasn't very badly affected during the famine years, which might explain the lack of stories have been passed down from that time. She also theorised that the people around Carron might have been better off due to their farming of goats, which were at one stage as popular as cattle in the area. She herself had grown up drinking goat's milk and eating goat's meat, something that has now ceased due to the area's dependency on cattle...a situation that she compared to the dependency on the Irish Lumper potato around the time of the famine.
I was also told about a famine village that was in Poulbaun, located close to the famine road in Poulaphuca that I had photographed during my last field trip to the area. She was also able to inform me of small constructions that were built nearby for the builders to take shelter in during bad weather. Lastly, she told me about the lazy beds, in which potatoes were grown around that time. Apparently their outlines can still be seen to this day, forever etched into the landscape.