I absolutely love spring in Eire! It is fabulous to see the once bare trees and shrubs now covered in ‘new’ green leaves! To enjoy all the different shades of green on the side of the country roads just makes life so much more worthwhile!
I suppose it is also because when temperatures start to climb on our side of the planet, everyone gets out. People walk, cycle, work in their gardens, sit outside, play outside. It is just really fabulous. I often wonder why I appreciate it so much more than when we were still living in South Africa. And the very simple reason is that here you cannot take good weather for granted. When there is a good spell, you enjoy it one hundred percent! You make the most of it. Nature is wonderful. Long bright evenings, birds chirping away, doors and windows open, washing drying outside on the line….. and everyone is in a good mood, enjoying life ….I get a bit carried away, I know.
Something else that gets me going is how old Ireland is. At first Ireland wasn’t even an island at all. It became separated from our neighbours, Britain, around the end of the Ice Age. On a clear day you can actually still see the Mull of Kintyre in the south-west of Scotland from the Antrim coast road! Antrim is right in the north of Ireland. I haven’t seen that for myself but I suppose it is little wonder for the sea is a mere 12 miles (about 19km) across at the narrowest point with England.
The oldest Irish Stone Age settlement is in County Derry, also in northern Ireland, and dates from almost 6000BC. Ireland is an ancient land in every sense. But amazingly it has been continuously inhabited since the end of the Ice Age. These were the pastoralists who are generally referred to as New Stone Age (Neolithic) people, before the nomadic groups arrived. They left the first permanent monuments that still grace the land. Especially the portal tombs – huge pairs of standing stones supported by a capstone – are very impressive. The people who put this together must have had amazing engineering skills to raise these structures and/or must have been really strong! One of these famous portal tombs is the Poulnabrone about 4500years old. You can view this in County Clare, close to where we are.
What is also really typical of Ireland (especially west and south of Ireland) are the many stonewalls you see. They create character to any building or field. The reason why these stone walls exist is simply because in many parts of Ireland the land is naturally very stony and in order to be farmed, it had to be cleared of stones. In the older times when there was no method of getting rid of the stones and the land had to be divided in separate divisions for cattle, the solution was to built walls.
I don’t know all the different types of stone walls, but I have seen many dry stone walls, which means there is no mortar holding the stone together. The wall is made by carefully selecting stones, bigger ones at the bottom and smaller ones at the top, to balance the wall. In other parts of the country the walls are different again, they might be lower and using different stones.
This photo was taken on Inishmore, the biggest of the three Aran islands situated on the west of Ireland. Look at these stone walls!
When the celts arrived – that was when iron was discovered, much better than bronze – Irish history began in earnest. They arrived in Ireland at various stages and came as different tribes, taking control of different parts of the country. There are many interesting tales and stories about Celtic Ireland. After them the Christians arrived in Ireland.
Well that’s all for today