Landscape as Witness - Field Trip: Day 29
The photographing of the famine road in New Quay was probably the most successful shoot of my previous field trip. However, due to the fact that I am now attempting to capture these constructions from above when possible, I thought I'd visit the location once more to see what sort of vantage point I could get. At the beginning of the day the weather for the shoot was ideal, bar the light rain that continued to fall as I made my way down the road from Carron towards Bellharbour.
This famine road runs along the side of Abbey Hill, joining up with the main road to Kinvara. Nowadays it is primarily used as a walking trail, with the surface of the road having been improved since its original construction. I had never actually walked the road in its entirety before, and kept an eye out for a route to the top of the hill as I made my way along the trail. I spotted a couple of new locations that looked promising, but decided to return to them after I had found a higher viewpoint. I came across a few tracks winding their way up the side of the hill, and made my way up one that looked like it could lead to a good view of the famine road running down towards the church in
The terrain wasn't the easiest to traverse, with the constant rain making the rocks underfoot particularly difficult to stand on. The track I was following must not have been used frequently, and I kept on losing it before it would reappear about 100 metres away. Upon reaching the summit, the wind suddenly became a factor as well. On my cycle down from Carron it had been quite blustery, so much so that I had been pushed off balance on multiple occasions. The wind only increased at this height, resulting in me becoming extra cautious as I made my way across the limestone pavement.
Unfortunately the rain also grew more intense here, and as I came across a suitable viewpoint a mixture of the rain and mist made the road barely visible below. I stayed up around that area for a while, but as weather was unrelenting I made my way down towards the road once more.
I went back to one of the locations that I had previously picked out and set up my tripod. After capturing a few images I decided to film the scene for about 20 minutes at a time, something that I had experimented with during my last field trip. Back in February the road had been almost completely deserted, but now I could only film for a maximum of 1o minutes before somebody walked into shot. As I was filming, I received a phonecall from one of the locals. Last week I had left my number with his brother after explaining the nature of my project to him, asking for him to call if he had any information regarding the famine in the area. We chatted on the phone for a few minutes before he invited me down to his house to have a look at some of the research he had conducted on the subject years ago. As I was in New Quay already I decided to take the short detour down to where he lived before returning to the facility in Carron.
The man and his brother were there when I arrived, and invited me inside. They were kind enough to allow me to photograph the research documents in question, even offering them to me for the duration of my stay in the area. The house they were living in was their original family home, and had been built in the area almost 200 years ago. Although surviving the famine, their family had been evicted in the early 20th century. Thankfully their home wasn't knocked down as a result of this, and they were able to move back in shortly thereafter. As well as mentioning a couple famine constructions in the area, the brothers were also able to give me information on the famine that I wasn't previously aware of. Due to the dependency of the lower classes on the Lumper potato during the famine years, people were known to eat as much as 10 pounds of potatoes per day. They also mentioned that during the famine people were made to cook food that they were not familiar with, such as the variety of fish that became part of their diet at the time. Because of this, a large number ate food that wasn't properly cooked. Due to their immune systems being so weak, as well as the lack of basic medical care afforded to them, many people died as a result of this.