Camino Rambling

Camino Rambling

This section of short stories started by accident when my old school-friend, Dr Danny McAllister, practicing in England, reneged on an anticipated visit to our shared ancestral parish home in September 2012. His excuse was that a long-planned 500 mile stroll was to take precedence over yet another visit to the homestead to poach a few tasty wild salmon from the River Moy. Each to their own, I thought to myself, until Danny later explained that his walking expedition was actually a re-enactment of a historical pilgrimage across northern Spain. Danny was sufficiently daft / possessed / fit / brainwashed (delete as per reader’s choice) to attempt to walk alone and uninterrupted from the French side of the border near to Pamplona all the way west to Santiago de Compostela. I was educated to learn that this countryside / countrywide walk is known as El Camino de Santiago to the ancient ramblers.

Danny’s walk along well-worn pathways was scheduled to take a little over a month, allowing for permissible overnight rests. I decided to accompany Danny (not in person!) by relaying the news from his South Sligo ancestral farm parish at regular intervals by way of a diary report. I was wary of this undertaking; maybe more-so than Danny’s physical challenge – because nothing much ever happens in a quiet outback in the West of Ireland, far off the beaten tracks which Dr McAllister was attempting to conquer, does it?

It was only when Danny reached the holy grail of the Atlantic Ocean, and I read back my diary notes, that I too had a “religious” experience and appreciated that a helluva lot happened in our isolated Irish community in the space of one month. My epiphany moment made me realize that the more distance there is between houses (typically 200-500 metres here), the closer the community. Every birth, courtship, wedding, illness or death is verbally communicated around the parish within a matter of hours of any formal announcement or insider knowledge being proclaimed. The well-being of the occupants of every secluded home is monitored from the village meeting points, namely the shops and pubs (some of which are shops and pubs). Help is always at hand.

I have lived in apartments and terraced streets in other parts of the world, and I never even knew the names of some next-door neighbours despite being more than familiar with their raised voices through seemingly paper-thin walls.

And so … I simply relayed the parish news to Danny, as it happened, and how I interpreted it. Danny told me he welcomed the light relief provided by my missives, and so did his fellow walkers when he shared the regular updates at his overnight hostels. In fact, Danny’s fellow-Camino pilgrims from around the world now want the GPS co-ordinates of our little corner of the world. Danny warns that there could be an invasion of lost souls looking for enlightenment. Whoever they are, they will be welcomed and cared for. That’s just the way of life here.

Click on Camino Rambling below to catch up on what’s been happening in the parish ….

Start at 26th September 2012 in order to follow the Camino trail, then:

28th September 2012

30th September 2012

1st October 2012

4th October 2012

6th October 2012

9th October 2012

16th October 2012

20th October 2012

22nd October 2012

26th October 2012

Advertisements

Recent Posts

An earlier “Tour round Ireland” with images (part 3)

Other European tourists made tours round Ireland even earlier than John Barrow in 1835. Almost 60 years earlier, an agricultural reformer from England called Arthur Young completed his “Tour in Ireland” in 1776 in preparation of a book of that name. Arthur wanted to see how the Irish natives ran their farms. Sometimes he was impressed (in the wealthier east of the country) and at other times, like most visitors to the west of Ireland back then, he was alarmed by what he saw; uneducated and poverty-stricken peasants living in primitive cabbins AND paying premium annual rent to Anglo-British landlords for the privilege of remaining at their ancestral homesteads.

For any budding builders or DIY enthusiasts, as an accomplished artist, Young even drew sketches of traditional Irish cabin homes and showed us how they were constructed. So if you want to buy a cheap plot of Irish land out west and build your dream 18th century authentic cottage, here’s how you go about it:

construction of a cabin

Construction of an Irish cabin (in 4 easy stages)

And here’s what Arthur Young observed:

“If the Irish cabbins continue like what I have hitherto seen, I shall not hesitate to pronounce their inhabitants as well off as most English Cottagers. They are built of mud walls 18 inches or 2 feet thick, and well thatched, which are far warmer than the thin clay walls in England. Here are few cottars without a cow, and some of them have two. A bellyful invariably of potatoes, and generally turf for fuel from a bog. It is true, they have not always chimneys to their cabbins, the door serving for that and window too: if their eyes are not affected with the smoke, it may be an advantage in warmth. Every cottage swarms with poultry, and most of them have pigs.”

Of course, Arthur failed to appreciate that the pet pig roaming around the cabin was also a great source of warmth, particularly on a chilly night when cuddling up to the snoring swine was of great comfort.

1777 cabbin

Here is an eighteenth century Irish Cabbin that some hardy buck produced earlier, prior to the introduction of chimneys into rural Irish architectural designs.

A few years later in 1790, a Frenchman named Charles-Étienne Coquebert de Montbret took his tour of Ireland while working as a commerce agent in Dublin. Charles-Étienne was fascinated by the culture of the west of Ireland and marveled at how its native inhabitants endured hardship without complaint. Charles-Étienne also made his own sketches of unfamiliar sights observed, and wrote accompanying texts in the French language. Below, I have reproduced one such article kindly translated by NUIGalway.

cabin plan in French

Floorplan of cabin and sketch of hearth with pot and crane

Translation: “For 5 guineas, one can have a cabin with three rooms, i.e. the kitchen and two behind the fireplace, one for the potatoes where they receive the smoke which preserves and improves them, the other for sleeping in. Only those intended for sowing are kept in earth. The Irish eat a little herring with their potatoes. One is enough for an entire family. One can buy 3 for one sol (penny). Potatoes are measured by the stone, weighing 16 pounds. They are cooked over a very hot fire, in an open pot, with little water; when they are cooked the water is drained off and they are put to dry beside the fire.
A cabin costing 2 guineas has no fireplace. It costs 5 to 6 shillings to have a stonemason build one of these cabins. Their outer face is of bare stone, the inner is rendered with earth and sand from the road. They are roofed with sods laid on a herringbone arrangement of lats, the thatch pinned into it with other thin lats and often held in position with ropes and weighed down with stones. They sleep naked on the straw which covers the floor, under a very large blanket of felted wool, without sheets.”

  1. An earlier “Tour round Ireland” with images (part 2) Leave a reply
  2. An earlier “Tour round Ireland” with images (part 1) Leave a reply
  3. The 1961 Parker Family Holiday photos now available in book format Leave a reply
  4. Only 0.3% of People Have One Ethnicity in their DNA, Showing Our World is a True Blend Leave a reply
  5. Unclaimed Persons Celebrates Ninth Anniversary and Launches New Website Leave a reply
  6. The second Neary / O’Rourke marriage Leave a reply
  7. More Merrill revelations – 5 years on Leave a reply
  8. My great-aunt Margaret Leave a reply
  9. 5.0 out of 5 stars – Read this! Leave a reply
  10. A search ending that every Irish Ancestry Researcher will embrace Leave a reply
  11. Book #review – ★★★★★★ – Can you award a book 6 stars? Leave a reply
  12. The Top 100 Most Common Surnames in Ireland in 1890 Leave a reply
  13. Jed & Sue got married Leave a reply
  14. Great Read !! #bookreview Leave a reply
  15. You can choose your friends – but not your Ancestors Leave a reply
  16. Not-so-romantic Ireland of old Leave a reply
  17. When Latter-Day Irish Saint Johanna went marching on Leave a reply
  18. The Top 100 Most Common Surnames in Ireland in 1890 1 Reply
  19. Not-so-romantic Ireland of old 1 Reply
  20. Another Irish Drowning Tragedy ~ this time inland Leave a reply
  21. A nice short story Leave a reply
  22. Irish boy jailed for playing football 1 Reply
  23. The Researcher’s Lament Leave a reply
  24. More ways to get a copy of Where’s Merrill? Leave a reply
  25. 1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 12) THE END OF THE ROAD Leave a reply
  26. 1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 11) Leave a reply
  27. 1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 10) Leave a reply
  28. 1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 9) Leave a reply
  29. 1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 8) Leave a reply