Friday, 12 August 2016


Pick twelve random persons off the streets in western Ireland and they can talk for Ireland at Olympic levels.

Be prepared to learn a lot about any random stranger you meet at a crossroad or a pub within a few minutes. They all have a short introduction about themselves and you must be ready with your own. It should be practised so it rolls easily off the tongue, especially if English is not your first language. Also practice to get an  automatic Hi, howareya, with a quick answer Grandgrand. When you have that down you are ready for the Irish countryside. It takes about two weeks.

I have had a month of Doing, Thinking and Learning. 
No planning, no financial thoughts and very little internet. Just a lot of Living. 

I am not the same person as a month ago. 
My jokes are new, my references have changed and I have found a new place to call home. The benefit of going to few places and staying a longer time, is that eventually you become a part of the street scene. Not that my name is known (mine is really odd) but I am known by sight (benefits of an equally odd appearance) and greeted with recognition.

Meeting people you like once in Ireland, makes them friends; the second time you meet, they are old friends, and by the third time, you are met with What? Are you still hanging around here? You had better come home with me to see the amateur film I made twenty years ago. 

So we did. Several times. With different people. (Once the film was from 1959). 
Equally charming when you spend the days trudging around the countryside, climbing fences and seeing the Mesolithic tombs, views and hills.

Most of the trip was spent at an introduction course, training to be an archaeologist. I have been taught to handle trowel, mattocks, shovels, buckets and historical artefacts. I have handled at least 50 kilo of late medieval animal bones as well as stained glass windows from 1263, brooch from the 13th century, pottery from the same time as well as an Irish coin from 1460. I have personally dug most of these things out of the ground and I have held them in my hands (grubby hands but still my hands). 

The brooch stirred the archaeologists in Ireland and went straight to the national museum. The animal bones went to the zooarchaeologist for identification. (Nobody envied her that job. From picking the bones one by one I say pig, cattle, a few sheep, fish, bird, oyster and the odd field mouse.)
We had a wonderfully, unusually successful dig and have again learned how little we know. 
We have walked new roads and seen new sights. 

I still have not learned to look right when crossing the road.

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