Landscape as Witness - Field Trip: Day 14
Before cycling down to New Quay for my second interview of the week, I decided to take the bike for a small ride around Carron. This was partly just to make sure that everything was running smoothly, but also so that I could call into another person that I had been recommended to talk to. Again, I wasn't certain of the exact address but I had been told that this person lived in a small cottage just outside of the village, and that if I came across the Michael Cusack Centre then I had gone too far.
Nobody was home at the first cottage that I called into, so I carried on further down the road. The next house I came across happened to be the neighbour of the man that I was looking for. She informed me that he wasn't usually home during the week, but that I should try calling back again either tomorrow (Friday) or at the weekend.
After grabbing some lunch back at the research facility, I made my way towards Bellharbour. I had a few items to get in Ballyvaughan, so I gave myself plenty of time to go there first. As I was cycling down the hill from Carron, I noticed the back brakes on my bike were almost none existent, and were barely applying any pressure on the wheel. Thankfully the front brakes were still operating normally, but I made sure to cycle cautiously whenever I came across a steep decline. On arriving in Ballyvaughan I had a look at the back brakes to tighten the brake cable, which was evidently slack. As I was loosening the bolt to do so, the cable came out. Unfortunately, due to the cap on the cable having been removed at some point and allowing the end to become slightly unravelled, I was unable to slide the cable through again to tighten it sufficiently. Since I wouldn't encounter any steep declines on my way to New Quay, I decided I would wait until I got back to the facility to examine it properly.
The rain was pouring down as I arrived into New Quay, and I made my way to the house that I had called into last week. I was invited inside and proceeded to have an engaging conversation with the owner. He began by saying that he wasn't sure if he'd be able to help me that much, but the more we conversed the more he was able to recover various memories and information relating to the famine. He had worked for FÁS and used to maintain various constructions that were built around the area, such as the famine road in Poulaphuca that I had photographed previously. He informed me that stone walls were built on the mountain behind his house to divide land between farmers during the famine, something that I had not been aware of before.
Like many people that I have spoken with, he claimed that the famine was rarely spoken about in his time. The odd story was mentioned occasionally, but more often than not it was a subject that was avoided. He was under the impression that this was due to the traumatic nature of the event, and compared it with his uncle being unable to speak of fighting during the war without being reduced to tears. He agreed that the area was not as badly affected during the famine as a result of being located on the coast, however this did not mean that it had not been devastated. He spoke in a positive tone of an Englishman who oversaw the exportation of fish during the famine years in New Quay, as the Englishman proceeded to set up a fishing business and provided employment for many in the area.
By the time I had begun to make my way back towards Carron the rain had ceased and the wind had died down, making the journey much more pleasant than it could have otherwise been. When I arrived at the facility I had a proper look a my bike, and was thankfully able to tighten the rear brake cable sufficiently. However, since my bike is insisting on being the star of the show, I feel that a visit to a repair shop long overdue.
#LandscapeasWitness #TheGreatFamine #Research #Ireland #History #Photography