Those Who Walked the Land

About seven months ago (or maybe longer) I was lying awake at about three am. My mind was racing.  It was a time when we had a bit more hope about keeping our planning alive because we were, or so we thought, about to sign a deal with another funder which would allow us to move forward and go back in for planning. Most importantly we would get our home and the land around it, out of the security. However, just like numerous other deals that came before that, they pulled out at the eleventh hour because a planner advised them to. (That happened a few weeks before Christmas). 

I couldn’t get back to sleep that night and didn’t want to wake Michael up because unusually he wasn’t awake and to be honest, it is a rare occasion that we get a full night sleep. So, I decided I would make myself a cup of tea and go out and sit on the deck for a bit. It was a cold night and I was wrapped up in a big blanket.  The tide was fully in and I could hear the sea. It wasn’t roaring as it sometimes does when it funnels in between Lambay and Shenick Island.  It was a gentle lapping sound. It was pitch black too but I was conscious of what was out there…. the islands and the Rockabill lighthouse beyond. 

I grew up looking out at Shenick Island. Of all the islands it is my favourite. It’s the boss. It’s monumental. The other islands seem to fall in line behind it. Now, a modern-day planner might take issue with the Martello Tower, describing it as “Visually Intrusive’. They probably would have refused planning permission. But I like it. I missed Shenick when I lived away from it and I don’t know how many times a day I look out at it. Depending on the tides, the light and the time of day, the view is never the same. I never tire of it.

It was really peaceful out on the deck in the darkness. I was thinking about the land of course but for a change I was thinking about the people that lived there long, long before we ever walked this earth. We had done an archaeological study as part of our planning and I was fascinated to learn that what we had a Bronze Age Industrial site on our land. I was thinking about the glamping we were hoping to do in front of the house and how it would be great to echo the Iron Age villages in our design. I was wondering about these people, what they looked like, how they lived. They would have lived a very tough existence. 

As part of the archaeological study a series of test trenches were dug. The test trenches and the imaging unearthed a circular ceremonial type enclosure on the upper field and some fire pit remains. On the lower field there are remains of a large rectangular Fulacht  Fiadh – a large pit that was lined with stones, filled with water and heated by hot stones. I’m not a historian so I’m open to correction, but it was explained to us that this would have been used for dying skins and cooking food. The archaeologist explained that, just as you wouldn’t want to live in an industrial site today, the Iron Age people’s homes were probably located on the flatter ground where I grew up and where the Holmpatrick Estate is today. (better not mention the National Planning Framework’s plans for Industrial Estates so!). He gave me a lovely flint scraper (the archaeologist). I love flint. Michael got our friend Ed Cook to make it into a necklace for my birthday. I love the necklace. It’s my lucky flint!!

Flint Scraper by Edward Cook- Wayland’s Forge

I once thought I might study archaeology just as my uncle and grand uncle had done before. During the heatwave in 2018 there were great archaeological discoveries made thanks to the dryness of the earth. I thought I would have a go at it myself. I discovered a circular shape just beside our field in the Nun’s Field and I was very excited by it. I showed the Google Earth Image to my father and he said two words; Fosset’s Circus!  We got a good laugh out of that. Of course, that was where the circus tent goes every year. I think I should leave the archaeology to the experts. 

So back to sitting on the deck in the dark. It got me thinking about how insignificant everything we were going through is in the greater scheme of things. That we are only really borrowing the land. (Mind you at that time I thought it would be for a bit longer!)  But I felt close to those souls that came before us. It was very peaceful and I slept well afterwards.  

5 thoughts on “Those Who Walked the Land

  1. Love that – evokes gorgeous images. Always visit when I see my sister Anne .

    My wife Joan had her very first Guinness on Skerries sitting outside on one of the very few hot days Ireland gets !

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that in this day a martello tower would be considered visually intrusive….tis sad but unfortunately probably true.
      Lovely reading to begin me day…ill be thinking martello during it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful piece Alison, as you said the views are always changing and I love it. I love living here and cannot imagine that I dont see you and Michael and the kids passing our house everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This makes me homesick! I love every view of Shenick.
    On a side note I also remember walking down the Rush Road one day squinting and wondering what the big grey thing was in the field……. It was an elephant! It had been left in the field the day before the high top arrived. Never a dull moment.
    I hope that beautiful view is still keeping you smiling Alison Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another great read Alison and so moving. I was close to tears. Love the archaeological find and your beautiful flint and Hugh’s recognition of Fossets Circus 😁

    Liked by 1 person

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