Greaghnageeragh Forest.

In arigna, Ireland, Off the beaten track., Uncategorized on November 1, 2011 at 10:05 am

On Sunday last Andy and I together with our 3 dogs went to Greaghnageeragh Forest which is about a mile and a half from our house. It is an eerie, sad and poignant place. On a small hillock within the forest is a communal grave where people who died during the Famine of 1845-46 are buried.

There were small homesteads here at that time. Poor people trying to eek out a living on this harsh mountain side. Being heavily dependent on the Potato crop it was a disaster when blight struck.

The survivors were too weak to bring the corpses to the local graveyard for burial so they buried them here on this remote hillside. One can only imagine the feelings of despair that this brought…all on a hungry belly…and all the while food was being exported from Ireland by the rich and powerful landlords.

November in Ireland is the month when we remember our dead relatives. Remember…remember lest we forget. We…one day will   be the dead relative. It is a time to realise our own mortality. Visiting places like this reminds us of the fragility of our lives. At least these people were trying to grow their own food…it just was’nt diverse enough…they were too dependent on the easily grown Potato. Nowadays we are dependent too…dependent on the supermarket to provide our daily nutrition. What happens in the event of some disaster when the stocks cannot reach the gleaming shelves. Something to think about perhaps?

 The local people here tend this area…all the while remembering. Mass is celebrated here every September…the locals come to pay their respects…and remember the ancestors. Others come here too. One can see the pathways worn by visitors. As we walked away from this forest we were struck by the silence…but… we were heading home to a nice warm house…a cup of coffee and a little snack. A flick of the switch turns on the TV with news of terrible famine in Africa. How awful and so sad that this should be happening still on planet Earth. Ireland now has so much food that one-third of food purchased ends up in the bin. Every country has the same waste…while others starve. So much is spent by the rich and powerful on war…while people die from starvation.

Forgive my solemn ramblings but these sites send my mind into these realms…but it is reality…it happened…is still happening.

Let us not forget.

  1. Hi Bridget, One of my ancestors immigrated from Galway County to the US in the 1800’s, great-great grandmother Elizabeth Cavanaugh. It is very stirring to me to see these photographs of the land she came from, and to know what some of my ancestors likely went through in those dark times.

    “Nowadays we are dependent too…dependent on the supermarket to provide our daily nutrition. What happens in the event of some disaster when the stocks cannot reach the gleaming shelves. Something to think about perhaps?”

    I too am feeling the same as the above quote from your post. I am making attempts to garden more, not just flowers, but food.

  2. Such a beautiful place. Such tragic history. Life is so messed up. (Sigh.) Good point about being too dependent on the grocery stores. I think about that sometimes.
    What is the meaning of the coins on the tombstones?

    • Don’t know what the coins are about…maybe a token offering. As to goats milk…it is richer than the milk one buys in the shops…but that’s not the real thing anyway. I have made cheese with varying degrees of success. I often make paneer…a soft cheese that can be pressed then cut into cubes and used in curries etc.

  3. This is beautiful. And, I like that your dogs are out with you. What an adventure for them.

  4. I think we often don’t give a thought to just how easy we have it. Our predecessors would have thought our lives fantastic, almost like living a dream. We had a little bit of a wake-up call in the aftermath of the cyclone that blew through here early in the year. No power for over 10 days, no running water for 3! The supermarket shelves were quite empty because the rail-lines and highways were closed for weeks because of flooding. It’s amazing how tasty canned goods can be when you have no other choice!! Food for thought.

  5. Very sad part of history. It is nice to know that people have not forgotten. A very thought provoking post.

  6. Yes, very thought provoking. How sad that these things had happened to those people so long ago. Hard working, tending the soil. I’ve just started growing veggies and was so excited to dig up the potato crop. I’m always very thankful that I love the soil and growing things ….

  7. A thought provoking blog. It makes you stop and appreciate the things we take for granted every day not just the material things but our loved ones as well.

  8. You make some strong points. We are indeed too dependent on the supermarket and far too careless in our food wastage.

  9. This makes me sad and guilty at the same time. Some of my family must have survived this because my grandparents came to New York in about 1915 from a little town called Foxford in County Mayo. Thank you Bridget. I will remember this every November as well.

  10. What a beautifully haunting place! How do you pronounce the name? I am always fascinated by this language.

    • Pronunciation: Greg-na-gear-ah. Hope that helps. Apparently it means flat mountain of the sheep. Thank you all for your kind comments on this post.

  11. If the waste, is at least composted, not dumped.

    Woolworths supermarket in South Africa has a deliberate policy of collecting food which has just reached its sell-by date, and passing it on to be eaten by the hungry, now.

    Appreciate you reminding us – lest we forget.

  12. Well written Bridget. And still the powerful exploit. In “rich” America poverty grows like a weed. And Africa starves. I think we can do better.

  13. It astounds me the waste in our country with what is happening elsewhere. Your story and seeing those graves touched a nerve.

  14. What you are saying about wastage is absolutely and utterly true! Waste nothing…utilize everything, and maybe us humans might just stand a chance!

  15. A very poignant post Bridget – and I am sure you go to these places just so we can’t pronounce the names. You are right about the waste though it is shameful – and I also get to wondering, what would we do if there were no shops – in this day and age we would not survive.

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