Declining Waters

When I decided to throw in my lot with Ireland and came to live here full time some five years ago after years of living a ping pong existence between the two countries, I decided that my time should be taken up with it’s history and ideally in the explanation of that history i.e. it’s archaeology.

So as soon as I could, I sought admission to an Archaeology Diploma course at Galway University, or NUI Galway as it likes to be called. What qualified me for this course was my point blank refusal to send them my General Certificate of Education results which I had sat some 50 years previously.

What followed was a thoroughly enjoyable two years of mainly thought provoking lectures on Ireland and particularly west of Ireland archaeology, only marred for some by the Head of the Archaeology School telling us towards the end of the first year that the Celts never came to Ireland. This statement did not disturb me, but in a class of Celts it was almost like being called a bastard. So much so that three of the class never appeared again and from the rest there was constant mutterings for the remaining 15 months, so engrained is this Celtic myth in the Irish psyche. In fact a myth introduced by politicians at the end of the 19th century to give some kind of focus to the new and burgeoning state of Ireland. Therefore let me just confirm the fact that THE CELTS AS A PEOPLE NEVER CAME TO IRELAND, however it is true that a few ideas were exchanged with the intermarriage of eminent families in Ireland with their neighbours on the continent of Europe.

The course finished and my examination results were satifactory enough for me to be invited down to the University to celebrate Graduation Day. Now I had already experienced one graduation ceremony with my eldest daughter at Nottingham University some years before and at that time was overwhelmed with the gross waste of time , money and energy expended in the simple task of handing over a peice of paper.

Thousands of students with parents in tow buying gowns, hats and dresses journeying down to the university campus to wallow in their millisecond of fame in front of a stageful of multicoloured academics who should surely be doing something better suited to their intellects. Since that time all my children and I have many, have taken in my thoughts on the subject and refused to expose themselves to this financial legerdemain.

I explained this to the nice lady from the University Graduation Office who rang me wondering why I had not filled in the application form for this gratifying day. Halfway through my verbiose diatribe she put the phone down leaving me unfulfilled. However my diploma arrived by post written in a quasi Latin script, I and at least 20 other people have tried to interpret without success. No wonder doctors and scientists can be accepted for positions of authority by flashing these pieces of parchment illuminated by Book of Kells type illustration and gobbledygook script. No one can translate the document therefore no one can refute the lies in the job application.

However the course was a tremendous success for me personally and I now know more about North Roscommon Archaeology than 99.9% of the natives and it helped me greatly in my understanding of the landscape which is integral in the formation of its archaeology, but I still cannot understand the academics, people of powerful thought, who annually put themselves through this graduation charade.

Still Cruising

For the last week now we have been surrounded by water. We live in an enclave of 10 houses built six years ago at the height of the Celtic Tiger on land people refused to venture on because of its tendency to remain under water for much of the time. Mr. Gallagher, our builder, who served his time in the Indus Delta area of Bangladesh, used all his wily inate skills that only a true post-colonial Irishman has and constructed the raft foundations of the houses to a level he knew was above and only just above the record flood levels we have reached this week.

Some of our neighbours are panicking and going to unbelievable efforts to keep the waters at bay but cannot understand the basic principles of hydrodynamics and so are valiantly wasting their time and money in flood prevention work that has no effect on either flood or property. If they had stayed in bed for a week they would have been more successful and possibly more creative. As it turned out the water levels did not get to within 150mm of their thresholds but with some,sphinctures start to twitch before they need to. Therefore my hero of the week is the wily Mr. G for laying the slabs of the houses at such a high altitude.

My other hero is our postman , who faced with waters so deep that he could not safely drive his van through, parked on high ground, and with his arms full of letters, parcels and the daily shite that normally comes through your letter box, climbed over several fences and delivered. This was true Wells Fargo stuff and delightful to witness.

My more serious thoughts go to the archaeological sites for which this area is inundated with and hope that they have withstood the weather better than some 21st Century constructions. They will certainly have had better practice at it as some of these sights are 5500 years old. Looking out into the flooded field at the rear of the house the site of Drum church and its attendant souterrain is under water. The church is famous for being founded by Columcille in about 560AD.  Unfortunately it was destroyed by some pre-colonial cattle raiders in the 15th century but not before it had made its mark on Irish history.

Going further up river you arrive at Abbeytown Bridge built by the Cistercian monks in 1220AD and the oldest working bridge in Ireland. It is this bridge that probably saved our twee little enclave as all week long it has been holding back 900mm of water and acting like a dam for property down river. I am sticking the old Cistercian monks up there with my heroes of the week. More talk of our archaeological riches in the days to come.

Having just read Drayton Bird‘s dynamic daily blog I fully concur with his sentiments. Why do you people of England let this dreary little shirt Mandelson patronise and at the same time laugh at you on a daily basis. I would make sure that I would be with Drayton when tying him to the front of the car and make sure his rectum was facing outwards to ensure as much as possible was thrust up it.

The Maiden Voyage

This to me is a totally new and exciting medium to record my diurnal or bidiurnal thoughts. A diary without boundary, a chronicle without necessarily the need for chronology. I am looking forward to it so much, for its width and its power.

After two days of practice I have now to seriously put pen to paper or should I say digit to key. I have just found out that I am on Mark Attwood‘s Blogroll, so the complexities of the system will slowly unfold while I for the moment concentrate on style and the shift key. My expertise on the keyboard is not great even though I have typed out laboriously my 400 page memoir with one finger which is slowly being pushed into my wrist.

By the way Mark Attwood is an Internet Marketeer and SEO Expert par excellence as well as being lucky enough to be my son-in-law and I am lucky enough to be joined on his Blogroll by Drayton Bird, possibly the most famous marketing expert in the world who is also lucky enough to be born in Ashton under Lyne where my father went to school, by Katy Attwood who is priviledged to be my daughter and mother of three and a half Attwood children, by Ken McCarthy, an American, and also by a chap called Vince Samios who is misplaced ambition personified, no doubt emanating from the fact that he is Australian. I thought that they were only good at cricket and serving penal servitude.

In this exalted company I am expected to shine. So here goes.

I have just finished reading the main works of Diana Athill, a woman of 92 years  who did not start to write with energy until past her 80th birthday. Her work is mainly in Memoir form and so real and honest, you imagine you are living her life for her. As a fan of the memoir genre I find my own pitiable attempts need to be drastically rewritten for them to be half as interesting as her writing is to the reader. She has reached massive new heights in the content and presentation of this style of prose.

Her only claims to fame were that she loved to read, loved to love and loved the art of procrastination. Which is probably why she has lived to her ripe old age without too much trouble. Her titles are:- “Yesterday Morning”, “Instead of a Letter”, “Stet”, “After a Funeral”, “Make Believe” and “Somewhere Towards the End” and a novel  “Dont Look at Me Like That”, which I have not yet read. All it seems can be bought on Amazon for next to nothing. However her compendium edition “Life Class” just recently published with a forward by Ian Jack costs a few pounds more. Start reading, start loving and procrastinating and live to whatever age you want.

Here’s an interview with Diana in case you’re interested:

So I sign off with the thought that it looks like the hand of God has reached out and accomplished more than King Canute ever did. The waters of Boyle seem to have stopped rising just as they started lapping at my gateway.

Increased flooding in Boyle

The flood waters from the Boyle River continue to rise. My analogy is that of a bullet with your name on it coming towards you in slow motion, you can prepare yourself but not get out of its way. Another 25mm overnight and about 450mm since last Thursday afternoon when I returned from Manchester. It is possibly up 1.5 metres from its seasonal norm. From what the media say it is at an all time high since records began.

I haven’t been able to take any video footage, but I have found this on YouTube from the 21st November which shows how badly the River is bursting:

As I am only practising this new fangled (to me) art form I will finish here and concentrate on more weightier matters for tomorrows entry.