Bend in the Road
On the lower slopes of the brooding mass of Slievemore mountain on Achill Island lies the doleful remains of the Deserted Village, over 80 stone houses abandoned after the Great Potato Famine in the 19th century. The potato ridges are still visible in the adjacent fields.The houses then became a 'booley' village, that is one used seasonally in the summer months when younger family members tended grazing herds before returning home in the Autumn. 'Booleying' continued until the 1940s. The present site has been occupied since at least the 12th century, although a megalithic tomb indicates habitation from before 3000 BC. Above the village at over 1000 feet is a striking white quartz boulder the villagers called 'Realt' (Irish for 'star'). I climbed the steep and difficult slopes almost to 'the Star' but had to return when a threatening rainstorm approached. The road north from the village of Keel turns sharply right on its way to Dooagh. Slievemore ('big mountain') is 671m (2200 feet) high. To the west the inaccessible sea cliffs rise to around 2000 feet, almost three times higher than the more famous Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare.
BEND IN THE ROAD, oil on linen, 61 x 91 cm (24" x 36)
© Fergus A Ryan, 2014 Private collection