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.
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
Rocks such as this are a favorite perch for leprechauns to rest and contemplate the works of man who have invaded their world. Inhabitants of Carlingford who wander Slieve Foye have come upon them often enough, their stories and certitude in the existence of the Little People are resistant to manifold doubters with their reasons and arguments.
Kevin Woods, aka McCoillte, was a doubter until worked on a stone wall on property he owned on Ghan Road, Carlingford. His belief did not arise on the discovery of the leather purse, covered with ages of dust and lime, nor with the gold coins inside. McCoillte pocketed the coins for luck. As luck would have it, McCoillte loved to walk on Slieve Foye. It was on one such walk he and his dog encountered Little People who paralyzed them to escape. His unexplained absence led to troubles with the wife.
This experience brought McCoillte around to enough of a belief that he, with lots of help, succeeded in petitioning the E.U. European Habitats directive to recognize leprechauns a protected species. According to a page on the Celtic Times web site, “The E.U. sent Madame Isobel Jeanne from Fecamp in Brittany France to Carlingford with the official letter declaring Carlingford Mountain (Note: otherwise known as Slieve Foye) protected, on the grounds that they could not prove or disprove their existence.” The page is titled “The Carlingford Leprechaun.” Google “Last Leprechauns” learn more about McCoillte’s stories.
I came upon this rock on June 9, 2014 on a day my cousin Sean Mills invited us to walk the Tain Way over Slieve Foye. It was such a finely shaped piece of what I suppose to be granite, the view of Carlingford, the lough and farmland so compelling, I spent time composing this landscape.
You can make out “King John’s Castle” just over the ridge and its yellow flowering gorse, on the margin of the blue lough. It is the boxy, grey structure; crenellations are visible on high resolution versions of the image. Carlingford is known for the castle, the popular name is for the English monarch who spent time there, although it was built by another.
We did not climb so much as ascend, with effort, the flank of Slieve Foy, a peak of the Cooley Mountains, County Louth, Ireland. The group being cousin Sean, my wife, Pam, and myself.
The ridge of Golyin Pass loomed in the mist where the path dissolved in low cloud. Sean pointed above, to the right to Barnavave, also know as Maeve’s Gap for the queen who came from the west of Ireland to take Donn Cúailnge, the Brown Bull of Cooley, by force of arms with an army behind her.
When cousin Sean named Cú Chulainn, the champion of Maeve’s opponents, the Ulstermen, he recalled a story once lost, Táin Bó Cúailnge. A hospitable siege different from Maeve’s and mist are part of the story of the recovery of this tale.
A gathering of 150 poets, 100 pupils, and attendants strained the patience and wealth of Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, King of Connacht, when it extended to a year and four months.
On that 16th month, the king challenged the leader of his guests to the telling of a tale. Guaire demanded Seanchan Torpest, the chief poet of Connacht, to recite the whole of Táin Bó Cúailnge, known in English as the Cattle Raid of Cooley or The Táin (Cattle Raid).
Click a gallery pic for a larger view.
In this way the king was relieved of his guests: the book of the Táin was lost before their lifetimes, rumored to be abroad. Abashed at his failure, Seanchan Torpest withdrew. Fellow poets and followers trailed out from the castle.
Seanchan Torpest regrouped the host (an opened question is who then supported them) in conference to construct Táin Bó Cúailnge. It was a false hope as the gathering discovered while each poet knew a part of the whole, most of the story was lost. His honor, reputation and self-esteem in tatters the Chief Poet of Connacht, set off with Murgen, his son, and second cousin Eimena to return the Táin to Ireland.
Into mists such as those Pam, Sean and I ascended, the travelers soon were lost and separated.
Magically, Murgen finds the grave of the Uncle of Cú Chulainn in the mists, there to meet the shade of that enormous man, Fergus mac Róich is his name. In the Táin, as related in whole by Fergus to Murgen, Fergus was led by circumstances to ally with Maeve, to guide her army against the Ulstermen. As a deposed king, traitor to Ulster and Uncle to the champion Cú Chulainn, Fergus knew the tale entire.
It was from the mists that Murgen emerged, found his father and cousin, and returned together without the book, but with possession of the substance of the Táin.
On Monday, June 9, 2014, cousin John Mills dropped his son, Sean Mills, myself and Pam Wills off at the foot of the western slopes of Slieve Foy on the Tain Way. Sean, Pam and I walked the way over the mountain and into Carlingford in the footsteps of epic Irish heroes.
Our guide, Sean Mills, proposed the walk and it fell on our last full day in Ireland. Sean’s father and our host for this visit, John Mills, transported the group including my wife Pam to the starting point at the foot of Slieve Foy.
Yes, if there is any part of the Tain Way the the mythic Irish heroes trod it is this one over Slieve Foy mountain. The saga, in Irish “Táin Bó Cúailnge” and “The Cattle Raid of Cooley” in English, features this bull, “Donn Cuailnge” “The Brown Bull of Cooley”, here as a statue erected 2011 by the Grange and District Residents Association.
Donn Cuailnge raged over the very slopes we walked this day. The myths themselves fill a volume and I am unable to do them justice here.
On the way, John stopped at the Old Aghameen School he attended in the late 1930’s early 1940’s 70 years before and we pass through the country soon to grace our views.
Many thanks to the Glenmore Athletic Club, the Cooley Walking Forum and land owners who provide access to the Tain Way.
We had our leave taking with John, who planned to stay near the phone for our call from Carlingford, if all went according to plan. That same year Pam had the first of two total knee replacements. This was our longest hike in Ireland and Pam was not likely to miss it, regardless of any pain. Pam is always ready to smile.
At start, the Tain Way is broad, green and welcoming.
The western slopes of Slieve Foy hold views of a valley among the Cooley Mountains with Dundalk Bay of the Irish Sea to the south / southeast. It was not long before the view started to open and, then, opened and opened the entire walk to the top. We were graced with a lovely, cloudy, June day. Mist only, no rain. Plenty of wind, not strong.
Farms are all about. Here a farmer attends to the flock. They know who he is.
The lower slopes hold many small stream among granite stones.
I will continue with our walk on the Tain Way soon enough.
I offer here a continuation of descriptions of a 2014 walk on the Tain Way, an appreciation of the lore and beauty of Ireland.
Descending the Tain Way from the ridge of Golyin Pass the sweep of Cooley Peninsula spread before us. Louth is the smallest of the Irish Republic counties, a peninsula which is mountainous where it is not farmland, one exception being Carlingford with the most people, population 1,405 in 2016.
Residential Carlingford continues along the Greenore Road, farmland adjoins then continues southeast along the Cooley Peninsula margin, the Irish Sea beyond. Greenore Town and deep water port on upper left. These photographs are views from the Tain Way on the slopes of Slieve Foye, the highest mountain of County Louth.
Wander through the place names: Chapel Hill, Liberties of Carlingford, Moneymore, Leminageh, Crossalaney, Mullatee, Millgrange, Ramparts, Muchgrange, Ballyamony, Mullabane, Petestown, Ballagane, Willville, Whites Town.
There is a deepwater port on Carlingford Lough adjacent to and part of Greenore Town. The port employed Cousin John Mills years ago, supplementing his farm income. Across the lough is Greenecastle, Newry in Northern Ireland.
The Irish Sea opens on the far side of Greenore with the Isle of Man about 52 miles east and a little north.
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.
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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.”
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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.
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