In three, so far, postings on the cottage ruins at Loughan an Lochan (Loughan Bay) we explored a former community above the Irish Sea with a view of Scotland. For the third posting I shared some research on the last cottage people of that site with the intent of additional postings.
I wondered, “What motivates you to do this?” and remembered my mother’s Canadian passport in which, for place of birth “Proleek, Ireland” was written and my request to our cousin, John Mills, who invited us to stay with them after my mother passed away, June, 2013, the request being to visit the site of great grandfather James McCardle’s home, where grandfather Peter McCardle was raised, information since discovered from the Irish census.
On the morning of Sunday, May 25, John took us from mass on a tour of sites related to the family. One of these was the site of the McCardle home, Proleek Townland.
There site is an anonymous corner on a unnamed street with no outlet. The street ends close to the Proleek Dolmen, an ancient passage tomb, after passing farms and fields.
The 1901 Irish Census provides these details from 116 years ago:
The walls were stone, brick or concrete
The roof of thatch, wood or another perishable material.
Two rooms, with three windows facing the road.
Out buildings listed were:
Today, the site is another person’s property, it was not possible to explore further than when the camera lens reached when I leaned as far a possible into the brush. No sign of standing walls.
Modern homes surround the corner, solid and prosperous.
For this posting I collected the following images from Google Earth. The site is marked with a pushpin, “McCardle Home.” A “Proleek Dolmen” pushpin marks the passage tomb.
A closer view suggests, if we trespassed and poked around, some remains of the structure were concealed by the trees and brush.
Between May 2014 and this image, from 2015, the center of the plot was gouged out. The area corresponds to the corresponds to the remains indicated in the 2013 image. From this we can understand were the structures stood in relation to the road.
Using the polygon ruler tool the size of the site is 413 feet in circumference, 9,619 square feet, and the gouge, indicating the ruins, is 1,368 square feet.
But for John and Betty Mills, their kind invitation to stay and John’s guidance that day, the “Proleek” notation on my mother’s Canadian passport would still be a mystery today.
John Mills passed away the next year, September 26, 2015. Here are Hawthorne Blossoms from the corner of the former McCardle home in memory.
In this Part 03, some contemporaneous people are introduced, more information on the environment provided, some previous residents named and imagined.
To understand the full beauty of a place, it is necessary to live it, to experience the seasons, approach the land from different aspects; pass the same place many time, noticing overlooked features, enjoying old favorites. We did our best in this single day and took the exploration of this Antrim County coast slow, savoring all the views we noticed as this is a once in a lifetime experience. Imagine our amazement to find Scotland so close at hand. In the past, on a fine day the trip across the North Channel, up eastern Kintyre peninsula shores to Campbeltown at the head of Campbeltown Loch, was easier than a land crossing to a closer town.
I picked Campbeltown because my great great grandfather, a sea captain, emigrated from Scotland to County Louth where my great grandmother, Anne Campbell, married John Mills. In this way Captain Campbell escaped persecution for his Roman Catholic faith.
Late in her life, Anne Mills posed for this portrait. I can tell great grandmother Mills is facing north from these clues:
— the press of the eternal east wind on her dress, against her left left and flowing away from the right.
— the sun shadow on her cheek. It was around noon. With the sun, at this latitude, in the south the shadow from her right cheekbone is darker than the left.
A few miles before Loughan Bay, at Coolranny, are informative placards describing the area. I thought the white flowering trees, or shrubs, on the slopes were Hawthorn. On revisiting my capture of the placards I learned these are a different plant named Rowan Tree, aka Mountain-ash. This wind stressed specimen is an typical example of Rowans on this coast, stunted and little more than a bush. This individual is slanted westward from a constant and stiff east wind, as with Anne Mills’ portrait. Residents, past and present, of this coast know this damp, persistent wind well. Note the lack of blossoms on the east side, blossoms that ripen to small dark red fruit called poms (also called rowans). The leaves turn red in the fall. More time, for the fruit to form and leaves to turn, was necessary for me to be certain my identification of this, as a Rowan, is correct.
On this day, Friday, June 6, 2014 I did two rounds of shooting the cottages. The first, handheld, with a Sony Alpha 700. Upon returning to the car for the Canon, Pam was talking to a friendly sheep farmer who pulled up in a large tractor pulling a tank. It turned out we parked below the turnout for his sheep enclosure built on the hill west of Torr Road. His flocks grazed the surrounding land. He and I talked, too briefly, about the hard lives of the people who lived here.
The Coolraney placard, up the road, claimed the cottages were deserted in the 19th century. I found evidence, in the 1901 Irish Census, of three Roman Catholic families, 19 men, women, children, living on Loughan Townland. In Part 02 of this series, setting the stage, Loughan is sized at 112 acres, a single photograph captures Loughan entire. These families had nowhere else to live, in Loughan, other than the cottages.
The smallest, and poorest, the poorest of the poor, family was 32 year old Mary Corbit and her two children, 10 year old Mary and Robert, 2 years. The Corbit family lived in a one room, stone walled, house with a wood or thatch roof. Unlike the other families they had no outbuildings, structures to house livestock or to support a farm operation. The house owner was Marj Delargy.
Here is a single room house among the ruins, four low walls, the east/west with intact gables, the stones collected from the hillside. The west wall higher up the slope, the floor now thick with fern.
Little Mary most certainly took care of Robert for part of the day. Did Mary, with Robert along, gather rowans, and other forage?
Mary Corbit: head of household, occupation laborer. There is a footnote to Mary’s “Marriage” entry as Married, “husband at sea.” The “C” of her census signature exactly like my mother signed her name Catherine.
Mary Corbit and her children were not listed in Loughan Townland for the 1911 Census.
….to be continued….. Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills, All Rights Reserved.
To close our time on the Tain Way I offer a poem written and presented to the congregation of the First Unitarian church of Ithaca New York 25 years ago, 1992. Interspersed are final photographs from our walk on the Tain Way of 2014.
The poem content is not directly biographical / confessional although it draws upon my experience as a single parent in the 1980’s through 1990’s.
A Poem Read To The Congregation
a crisis threatened an Irish village men women children filled the meeting place everyone participated especially the infants
raising John alone was not part of the plan Its been just john and me helen gave birth to john to have a part of me in case of loss i felt the same way and she understood
a welcome feminine voice in our home “Little House on the Prairie” and “Little House in the Big Woods” twice.
Here is an excerpt from a newspaper article by Wilder called “HOME” that has an emotional resonance for me dated 1923 Wilder was in her 50’s.
Out in the meadow, I picked a wild sunflower, and as I looked into its golden heart, such a wave of homesickness came over me that I almost wept. I wanted Mother, with her gentle voice and quiet firmness; I longed to hear Father’s jolly songs and to see his twinkling blue eyes; I was lonesome for the sister with whom I used to play in the meadow picking daisies and wild sunflowers.
Across the years, the old home and its love called to me, and memories of sweet words of counsel came flooding back. I realize that’s all my life the teaching of these early days have influenced me, and the example set by Father and Mother has been something I have tried to follow, with failure here and there, with rebellion at times; but always coming back to it as the compass needle to the star.
So much depends upon the homemakers. I sometimes wonder if they are so busy now with other things that they are forgetting the importance of this special work. Especially did I wonder when reading recently that there was a great many child suicides in the United States during the last year. Not long ago we had never heard of such a thing in our own country, and I am sure there must be something wrong with the home of a child who commits suicide.
we give so much to our children what’s left over though is ours
The popular name of the Loughcrew megalithic site is, “The Hill of the Witch” (In Irish, Sliabh na Caillí). In lore sites such as this are associated with The Others (“fairies”), living lives parallel and invisible to ours, touched now and then with resolutely ill effect to our side though sometimes theirs as well. Resolute as in these meetings are fated to end poorly unless…..unless the mortal knows the rules. “If you are ever in an Other’s mansion for a party never, ever eat or drink anything. Eating or drinking will condemn you to an eternal round of parties. You will dance till dropping every night.” Rules such as that, and others, can be used to turn the tables, gain an advantage, of beings from the Other Side. The story of my wife, Pam, how our lives came to be touched by this afternoon of May 27, 2014, is parallel to the tales of mortals benefiting from contact with The Others. The immediate source was the passing of my mother, Catherine Ann Wills (McCardle), at the age of 90. Mom’s passport gave her place of birth as Proleek, a place in Louth. My maternal grandmother, Mary Catherine McCardle (Mills) spoke with a brogue, less a lilt than a down to earth and kind warmth. I remembered the stories of Mom’s passage to Canada with her mother and father in 1926 at the age of three. The Ireland connection with my father was less direct as I never met his mother as an adult and we seldom spoke of her. It was left to me in the time between my Mom’s passing, an invitation for a visit from our cousin’s in County Louth, and our arrival May 2014 to understand more about Elizabeth (Duffy) Wills, my paternal grandmother. In this way, I discovered Elizabeth came from a family of Dunderry, County Meath, Ireland, her parents Matthew and Teresa (Plunket) Duffy; our tour of Ireland came to start from a bed and breakfast near Trim, County Meath, with Dunderry up the road. May 27th, we planned as an exploration of all things County Meath, to include Loughcrew, the highest point of the county in the west. Along the steep path to the hilltop a hawthorn tree covered with flowers and offerings welcomes visitors. May is the month for decorating hawthorns, the blossoms are also known as “Mayflowers” as in the ship the pilgrims sailed to Plymouth Rock.
As if we entered a gateway, when pausing and turning high on the hill, this view was revealed, otherworldly in its fullness, scope and wonder as though we passed to the other side to the fairies. Cairnbane East of the Loughcrew Cairns site, County Meath Ireland, is also known as Hag’s Mountain. We are looking south, southwest from the north side toward Cairnbane West. Flowering yellow whin bush, also known as gorse, is in foreground; white flowering hawthorn trees in distance. No elements of this photograph hint at the year 2014.
A solitary standing stone below the trail to the Loughcrew site surrounded by whin bush in yellow flower and white blooms of hawthorn hedge rows. A fieldstone fence, farmhouses, a patchwork quilt of fields completes the view.
Meanwhile, in the real world, when Pam and I complete our round of the island to return to my cousins in County Louth, they told us, on this day, two young men were discovered parked next to a nearby lough, murdered during a drug deal gone bad.
Since 1877 primary education in Uruguay is universal, compulsory and free. These days students receive free education through university, literacy is the highest in South America at 95%, equally for males and females.
These photographs are from a cruise around South American my wife, Pam, and I enjoyed February / March 2016 on the Oceania ship Regatta. This was the evening of February 26, 2016, a Friday, in the city Montevideo, Uruguay.
This image is the theme of this blog, “back to school”. On Avenue Gral Eugenio Garzon of the Colon neighborhood of Montevideo a mother and four daughters discuss a shop window featuring “back to school” clothing and necessaries. The children range in age from pre-school to teen. This is evidently a serious discussion about preparing for the school year which starts in March for Uruguay.
A government program launched in 2007 expands Information and Communication technologies in primary schools with these goals:
— To distribute technology,
— To promote knowledge,
— To generate social equity.
Called Ceibal, after a tree native to Uruguay, the program was a success. From 2009 – 2012 450,000 laptops, popularly named “”ceibalitas”, were delivered to children coordinate with teacher training and a monitoring and evaluation model for assessing the impact nationally. Ceibal is the acronym for “Conectividad Educativa de Informática Básica para el Aprendizaje en Línea” (Educational Connectivity/Basic Computing for Online Learning in English).
These photographs build on the theme of the positive influence education has on the lives of Uruguayans, many of whom live in poverty.
A family gathering in their yard on Avenue Gral Eugenio Garzon, enjoying a cool late summer evening.
Traffic and a gas station. People were out and about, walking and conversing. There is a makeshift trailer attached to the motorcycle, behind is a large truck.
Storefront with customer and man loitering on wall. A mini-Honda all terrain vehicle is on display.
Mate is a beverage enjoyed throughout South America. Here companions enjoy a warm summer evening with a thermos of hot water and mate gourd behind a restaurant, their view across the train tracks and the Colon rail station is of a playground and playing fields.
A family of very young soccer players coming from practice with teammates. The sponsors of lucky number 7 are the bank Banrisul and Tramontina, a kitchenware manufacturer.
We waited to board an historic train and shared the station with Montevideans waiting for a passenger train. Here are two families: a mother and pre-teen daughter colorfully dressed, a grandmother and grandson. Behind them are the playing fields and playground.
A passenger train heading north passed while we waited for our ride to begin. Curiosity shines from this child’s eyes.
Happy families greeted us with waves and smiles during our trip to downtown Montevideo.
Some of the homes along the rail line. Pools such as that are popular in cities. We saw a great many on the streets in Lima, Peru.
Reaction to the historic train from a group of young men.
Curious playmates gather at the end of the road.
A well attended playground.
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
I have an update to my post “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home” where we explored the site of the boyhood home of my grandfather, Peter McCardle, on great grandfather James McCardle’s Proleek farm. April 2018 an email arrived from the brother of the owner of the house across the road. He recognized the property from the blog photography and reached out to introduce himself and share information. His own genealogical research suggested we shared a great aunt. We now work together to define this connection.
Our tour of Ireland was bookended by a visit to the farm site and, located little more than a kilometer away, a 5,000+ year old portal tomb, the last site Pam and I visited. We parked at the hotel / golf course built around the monuments. There is no fee to visit the site, number 476 on the list of Republic of Ireland National Monuments (Irish: Séadchomhartha Náisiúnta), protected at the level of guardianship by the National Monuments Act of 1930. The townland is named after the dolmen. The anglicized “Proleek” is derived from the Irish for “bruising rock”, as in a millstone. The grave is attributed in folklore to the resting place of the Scotch Giant, Para Buidhe More Mahac Seoidin, who came to challenge Fin Mac Coole.
Click photograph to view my Ireland gallery
Ballymascanlon House Hotel is on the R173, on the left heading from the M1 towards Jenkinstown. Path to the monument is marked here and there and requires attention. It helps to understand the general location of the monument on the property. The parking lot and hotel are on the southern end, the monument is on the north end.
The path leads through the hotel grounds….
….and golf course…
…and you first encounter the megalithic Gallery Grave of a type named “wedge shaped.”
Click any of the following photographs to view my Ireland gallery
The 22 foot long tomb gallery supported stories of a giant burial. Pam poses for a sense of scale.
These are the only ancient monuments in Ireland were a stray golf ball may be encountered.
A short way ahead is the dolmen, or portal tomb. The informational placard is in English and Gaelic. There is an illustration of the stones covered with earth with a stone façade.
Some describe the formation as a giant mushroom with warts. The posting feature image is of the same aspect as the next photograph, with me for scale.
Click any of the following photographs to view my Ireland gallery
The Defiance Plateau of northeastern Arizona declines gradually from its origin, the Chuska Mountains of New Mexico. Route 191 runs where the Defiance Plateau merges with a valley of the larger Colorado Plateau. The Black Mesa escarpment forms the western valley wall and is clearly visible from Canyon de Chelly visitor center.
Carved into the Defiance Plateau, the high cliff canyon walls of Canyon de Chelly at intervals belly out into wide alcoves. For thousands of years, the land between the walls was farmed. Here is a photograph from our 2008 canyon visit, visible are fields, farm equipment, shed and sport utility vehicle (SUV). Look closer for the hogan, adjacent to the shed, and, on the lowest sandstone shelf on the left, white goats.
Here is a quote from the reference link provided at the end of my post:
“The massive, high cliffs that form the walls of the canyon are De Chelly Sandstone. The De Chelly Sandstone consists of sand deposited in dunes in a subtropical to arid environment in Early Triassic time (about 250 to 230 million years ago).”
In this photograph the goats jumped off the shelf to graze, around them are the two forms of De Chelly Sandstone. 230 million years ago winds driving across the dry lands, piling the eroded bits of ancestral rocky mountains into dunes hundreds of feet high. The in-stratified rock cliffs are the body of those dunes, converted to stone over the eons. The cliffs are visible in both photographs. The dark stains are called desert varnish. Read more about desert varnish in the first posting of this series, “Portrait of a Navajo Guide.” The rock in the foreground appear formed from an orderly pile of stone plates, this appearance is called stratification. Another name for it is Cross Bedded Sandstone, formed from wind blowing across the dunes.
That entire, northeastern, side of the alcove is Cross-bedded sandstone. Click on any one of the following photographs for a larger version, to peruse the detail.
A fascinating detail in these photographs, the subject of this post, are human figures rendered tiny by the distance and the enormous maze of sandstone.
It is four generations of a Navajo family, fathers, mothers, children of all ages down to infants in carriers. My wife Pam, myself and our Navajo guide watched in wonder as they made their way down to the canyon floor.
Their progress was slow and careful. Everyone kept together. Nobody left behind.
Here they inch along a high ledge.
Descend from one ledge to the next.
Most amazing of all, the first person down is an elderly woman wearing sports shoes, steadied with umbrella, accompanied by a pre-teen girl. Her progress steady and sure from years of experience.
Our guide knew the family. He and they chatted in the Dine language. The were travelling for a birthday party.
Here is a project completed for a “Fundamentals of Photography” refresher course. The task is to use a variety of lenses of my choice to document scene from my surroundings. These photographs document a family heirloom, mouse figurines collected by my wife, Pam’s, mother, Patricia Crist, assembled by Pam into two display cases with assorted figures created by Pam’s daughter, Denna.
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills
Purling of the water beneath this foot high waterfall was enhanced by reducing ISO to 100, tamping down the aperture to f/22 resulting in an shutter speed of 1/10th second. I set the graduated Neutral Density filter to shade the left side.
On the cliffs ahead is where the observation platform is cut into the rock. It has a great view of the waterfall, in some ways the experience of the falls is enhanced, compared to hiking the 3/4 mile path and standing below.
Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.
A marvelous forest grows on talus from the high gorge walls.
A sign on a disused pier warns waders to leave the creek bed. Ahead the gorge walls tower above the creek. Rocks dislodge and crash down unexpectedly, crushing foolish waders. It is appalling to see, in warmer months, people walking below those cliffs gathering the fallen rocks to make delicately balanced cairns.
Here is a slide show from today and two prior postings. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills