INNOCENT LANDSCAPES REVISITED: 07 / SEP / 2010
TWO CONTRASTING EVENTS
Posted by David Farrell
A few weeks ago I returned to the landscape of the recent discovery at Aughrim More. At the entrance to the site it seemed that a large rock had been placed as a dormant but potential memorial stone that quite publicly faced the slim road that separated Aughrim More from Colgagh (location of the discovery of Brian McKinney and John McClory in 1999). A short time had elapsed since its secret had been revealed and as I walked down the rough stony track the bog already appeared to have been leveled and so now this location as opposed to site had been returned to the forthcoming passage of time and nature. The earth removers were gone and as I rounded the small hill at the bottom of the track it was quite moving to see that an active memorial stone already occupied the far end of the returned bog. As confirmation is awaited – real science unfortunately does not have the pace of CSI – it appeared that relatives had allowed themselves at least a private acknowledgement of their grief.
It is a memorial that encapsulates why these searches occur and also the consideration shown by those involved in crushing some rocks and laying a path out into the wet bog for future visits a deep contrast to physical clawing of the bog that previously occupied them. Its location not right at the very edge of the excavated bog but short of it and in the centre an indication of the provisional nature of discovery. A spot that was possibly between here and nowhere is somewhere and embedded quite solidly into rock surface are two slender and tiny night lights which must create an evocative will-o’-the-wisp at dusk as they hover a foot or so above this memento mori. As of yet it awaits a plaque with a name and a narrative.
Meanwhile at Wilkinstown, after having examined the previously unsearched remainder of Coghalstown Wood in early June, they spent the summer partially replanting what they had salvaged of the thin trees that had grown from dispersed seed since the searches of 1999 and 2000 and I would occasionally drop by to look at this process.Then one Sunday towards the end of August I paid a visit on my way to Oristown. The curious cows in the adjacent field rushed towards me as if they were about to say something but as ever they just stood and stared. The machinery had left and the partly replanted wood, a kind of anorexic grey desert amidst the surrounding lush green fields, was now on its own. Curious as to what might lie ahead I ventured into the untouched wood to find nearly all those thin blue totems of hope removed. Already the odour wounds that punctured the bog floor were closing up - hmmm - perhaps it’s over I thought, this year of scouring and scraping.
On leaving, I glanced towards the strip of trees containing the swallowing tree and noticed that a small rectangle of grass had been scratched away and a small rock had been placed just in front of the stump of the wooden cross that for many years had marked this place of expectation. It was one of those small moments of recognition familiar from other locations and yet tinged with another feeling. As I approached it another delicate gesture in contrast to the hard physicality of the search revealed itself. Retrieved from the undergrowth and placed on top of this small rock was a memorial stone dating from the first search ten years previously, expounding the love of a brother for his sibling as also a friend. And this final scraping of the grassy earth to allow this memorial to stand still and clear perhaps the absolute small act of memory. I envisaged a private and intimate ritual of silence from those involved as the stood at this scene. Was this a temporary withdrawal? A cessation of activity? I have no way of knowing. But on the waiting goes.