In genealogy circles, the common term for a seemingly insurmountable research dead-end is a “brick wall.” Professional genealogists have the experience to know that a classic brick wall cannot be scaled – but if you keep digging, and dig deep enough, you might just be able to squeeze part-way through a hole and take a peek at the other side. And what you see might convince you to give up trying to go through that brick wall; it’s pointless. There was nothing of value on the other side. On the other hand, a glimpse of something bright and shiny might inspire you to reverse back a bit, head off to the side (not losing sight of that wall), nudge forward and eventually come out somewhere on the far side of that brick barrier that was holding you back for so long. Then you can start to try and make sense of things in a strange new place, but you can, eventually – if you stick around.
My personal brick wall (shown below) is a beautiful thing and pointless. Well, if you look closely enough, you will see that there is no pointing. No mortar. There never was. It’s a work of art; ancient Irish art.
My wall is the gable-end of an ancient Irish stone barn. It has withstood all weathers for over 200 years. It is a State-protected structure, and I am the Protector because it sits on my property. I wish that this meant that the State would contribute to the upkeep of the structure, but no! Oh no – as the private Protector, I am expected to privately raise my own funds and get on with the Protecting without a cent of State assistance. Of course, if my beloved wall ever falls down, then I am in big trouble … with the State – who would not hesitate to prosecute me for trying my best, spending a fortune, but ultimately failing, alone, in my lifelong task.
That doesn’t seem fair. I hope you knew about your responsibility for upkeep before you bought the property it sits on!
I knew that the old barn could not be demolished when I bought my homestead, and I have no problem with that because I love the ancient structure. I got a surprise though after one harsh winter when I applied for assisted State funding to carry out some repairs. I was encouraged by faceless bureaucrats to urgently proceed with the work, and then I was sent dozens of forms to fill out to apply for recompense. Crazily enough, I could qualify for small grants if I converted the usage of the barn into a full-time agricultural business (that would undoubtedly result in permanent damage to the structure which has one tiny and narrow access opening). Simply being an interesting and rare example of ancient building techniques admired by all who view it – is not enough, for financial aid. It’s like saying that the British government will only fund the upkeep of Stonehenge if the landowner converts it into a modern stadium. The State is financially bust, and the world has gone mad.