Category Archives: Uncategorized

A small act of remembrance

The little protestant church in Belmullet has been closed for half a century. Stark and forlorn, it stands on the edge of town, surrounded by its dead, waiting for revival or resurrection. You can find redundant Church of Ireland churches … Continue reading

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Rescue 116

I’m standing at the back door of the cottage, watching as a Coast Guard helicopter flies low and slow, tracing the line of Tullaghan Bay. Every now and then it pauses, hovering as the crew peer down at some shape … Continue reading

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The Western World 2

Synge got three Guardian articles out of Erris, each illustrated with one of Jack Yeats’ oddly haunting drawings of thatched cabins, empty roads and half-formed faces. One day, they drove to the village of Geesala and walked out along the … Continue reading

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The Western World 1

It is late. The square is full of flaring fire and people. In the falling midsummer light of a St John’s Eve crowds laugh and gasp at the antics of the boys as they hurl flaming paraffin-soaked sods of turf … Continue reading

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The edge of things

Cillíní, children’s burial grounds, gathered folklore to themselves, stories and beliefs that suggested that even if we forgot the unbaptised, the landscape would remind us of their presence. It was thought that if you walked on certain pieces of ground … Continue reading

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A place that harbours memory

There are several hundred children’s burial grounds, cillíní, in Mayo, and at least eighteen in Erris – probably more, since some sites must be lost to memory. Most of the Erris survivals are on or near the coast, like the … Continue reading

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The Mound

Like so many of the burial grounds in Erris, the graveyard at Doohoma looks out to sea. The square two-acre plot lies on a quiet hillside a mile out of the village, close to the strand, walled and gated and … Continue reading

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Keats vs. Newton

Keats accused Newton of destroying all the poetry of the rainbow ‘by reducing it to the prismatic colours’. When I first started to notice the rainbows of Tullaghanbaun, part of me didn’t want to see the poetry drowned in a … Continue reading

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A bridge and a promise

There are rainbows here. They come often. So often that it is a rare day when I don’t see colours gleaming over the bay, or hovering bright above the purples of the bog, or far out at sea, a bridge … Continue reading

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The black causeway

Our neighbour Sheila says that when she was a child, the sea here parted each spring to reveal a causeway stretching across the bay, encrusted gleaming black with mussels. She was told stories of how the pirate queen Gráinne Ní … Continue reading

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