On The Road

We are on the road again heading west and there is an air of excitement in the car. Far off fields are definitely greener and around every corner another surprise. Perhaps an old ornate cast-iron pump tied up with straw to keep the frost out, or maybe a stone wall vanishing out of sight up the side of a mountain, apparently serving no purpose. These walls were built, for an allowance of food by ‘relief workers’, during Famine times.

A simple field gate could stop me in my tracks and make me a danger on the road! Made by a local blacksmith, these gates often show folk art feature of the highest standard. Watch out for the next field and the next. You can see similarities in the gate designs, sometimes for miles. And don’t forget the wee garden gates. Then we have makeshift gates using redundant farm machinery just shoved into the gap. Or maybe recycled iron wheels of long-ago horse drawn mowing machines welded together, or chimney cranes no longer used but utilised again to make a gate. Finally there are the formal Victorian entrance gates and railings of the “Big House”, very ornate cast iron wonders, often flanked by 10 feet high walls that go on for miles, definitely all too unfriendly for my liking.

We must continue, we have more corners to turn with more surprises. Are we in another county? We have missed the welcome sign but nevertheless there are other clues. The road surface has changed, indicating a different council authority with maybe not so much money allocated to roads. Brightly coloured flags fly from makeshift poles telling us that this county nearly won the Munster hurling final! Over the hill and round the next corner, old ruins of house appear. Some with their roofs still on, now used as cattle shed; some with a gaping hole where the half door and kitchen window used to be and now stuffed into this gap is the farm tractor.

A thatched cottage ahead seems to be slowly sinking – the beginning of the end. Weeds and green grass now grow profusely on the old sagging straw and sod roof. How long more?

We are too busy and haven’t time to be worrying about it. Now what’s this ahead? An EU funded motorway. We are suddenly jolted right out of the 19th century and thrown into the 21st in the space of a couple of miles. The road is great, wonderfully smooth and straight as a dye. It has hard shoulders, flyovers, yellow lines, cat’s eyes and massive signs. Are we still in Ireland? But lucky enough it doesn’t last forever – we shortly see big billboards telling us to go slow and then even slower. Eventually flashing lights tell us to ‘reduce speed now’ and all this because the old homely narrow two-way system is back again. What was all that, you may ask?
But we must adjust ourselves. First we must drastically reduce our driving speed, which is easy enough, but the poor old mind speed will have to after itself!

Categories: Ephemera, Uncategorized