Saturday, June 17, 2017

Struck with Astonishment

"When the traveller…first approaches it, he experiences a sensation of disappointment…But when he enters it, he is struck with astonishment; and his imagination almost instantly transports him to distant ages lost in remote antiquity. He vainly endeavours to figure, in his ‘mind’s eye,’ the beings who erected it, their manners, habits, and costume; until, ‘lost and bewildered in the fruitless search,’ his mind returns to sober investigation, again to lapse into conjecture. This effect is not lost by familiarity—I have visited it a hundred times, and have always experienced the same sensation. The name of this building is Staigue…

F.C. Bland, Description of a Remarkable Building…, 1825"

Just down the road from us, near Castlecove, you turn inland from the highway and up a narrow lane about 4km. At the end is Staigue Fort, which is probably not a fort, and possesses a name that doesn't seem to translate into one solid idea.

The quotation above is found at Voices from the Dawn, my go-to website for Irish antiquities. That page contains 360views, legends about fairies as told by locals in the 1970s, 18th-century imaginary reconstructions, and better photographs.

What's hard to see in the photos are the many stairways running up the inside and up to the wall. The site has been there for 1000 years and you can just step into it and mess around: walk up the stairs, climb around on the top of the wall, transport yourself to distant ages of remote antiquity... it's no bother.

We met Eileen, who served us this sconegasm from a caravan disguised as a cottage.

There's no visitors' center. As we all walk through a cattle gate, we drop a Euro coin in to a metal box "for trespass." Eileen told us that people sometimes sleep in the middle of it. I'd like to be able to do that some dry evening. This part of Ireland is a Dark Sky Preserve. We're going to look into dark sky tours.

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