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Landscape as Witness - Field Trip: Day 28

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I had already photographed the famine road in Poulaphuca during my initial field trip to the area. However, since I had been rushing to photograph all the famine constructions during my final week, I was left with no other option but to photograph the road on a rare, sunny day in February. Because of this, as well as not being entirely satisfied with the resultant images, I had been hoping to return to the location to photograph the road once more. As it is situated only a few kilometres away and built into the side of a steep hill, I decided to leave my bike at the facility and walk there instead.

On reaching the area of Poulaphuca, I called into the owner of the land that the road was on so I could ask for permission to access it. I had already requested access during my initial field trip, however I wanted to make sure that it was still ok for me to do so. Nobody appeared to be home, and I was about to leave when another local farmer came up the track. He informed me that the owner of the land in question no longer lived in that house and was now living next door, although he was currently out. When I mentioned my project to him, he informed me of a famine graveyard that was located on his land, and that I was welcome to access it whenever I pleased. He also suggested that I call into the Burren Programme main office (located in the old schoolhouse in Carron), saying that they might be able to help me further. I thanked him and decided to prioritise photographing the famine road, making my way across a number of fields to its location.

The weather was quite changeable due to the strong winds that occurred throughout the day. Although the sun was shining when I arrived at the site, I knew that it was only a matter of time before the clouds would start rolling in. On my way up to the construction itself, I came across the shelters that I had been searching for during my last visit to the area. Although their roofs had long since collapsed, the walls still stood strong, an impressive feat considering how exposed they are to the elements up there.

When I eventually found a way to climb up onto the road, I noticed that the foundation stones were far larger than those placed on the road in Mullach Mór. This road was also a lot shorter, and nowhere near as completed. I had been informed that the flat stones situated alongside the road were where the builders at the time would have sat to shape the rocks for its construction. Various unusually shaped rocks can be seen sitting on them to this day. Soon after my arrival the sun disappeared behind the clouds, and I was able to capture a few frames before it returned once more. On doing so, I made my way up the side of the hill to the next location. This is not recommended (or sensible), as the long grass is capable of hiding various grikes (or 'scealps' as they were originally known) that dominate the landscape, and as a result it is very easy for your foot to slip into them.

I had been wanting to capture an image of the road from a height so as to highlight its position in the landscape. I also felt that the images taken from the road itself didn't do the construction justice, as this perspective wasn't able to showcase its enormity. I had already chosen a vantage point during a recce of the area, and waited there until the sky became overcast once more. I was in luck, as an enormous rain shower soon engulfed the landscape as far as the eye could see. Holding a rain jacket over my cameras for protection, I was eventually able to get the shot that I was looking for. Due to strong winds the shower passed by in an instant, and I made my way over to a second viewpoint that I had previously picked out.

Unfortunately, the next couple of hours didn't feature any further cloud cover. With the weather forecast predicting clear skies for the rest of the afternoon/evening, I made my way back to the facility. On returning to Carron, I called into the Burren Programme centre to see if they would be able to assist me with my research. As it was slightly late in the day there was only one person working there at the time, however she was able to give me an enormous amount of information regarding the famine constructions around the area. These included a wall in Sheshymore, a ditch at Castle Lough, and a road in Pullagh. She was also able to give me multiple contacts who would be able to help me further. I was incredibly grateful for her help, and only wish that I had called into the centre sooner.

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