Friday, 19 August 2016

Gallowglass

One aspect of Irish life which regularly impresses us is the quality of their road-side art and sculpture. The nearby town of Ballaghaderreen is ringed by lovely wicker-work cattle, milk churns, men, huge urns, a big fish as well as various arches and arbours or shapes made out of woven willow. It is all very dramatic and interesting to see as you drive about, but they have now exceeded even all this by commissioning an impressive, 16 feet tall sword-wielding warrior in a bright (chrome?) stainless steel to stand by the west-bound side of the new bypass.

Locals will know that this guy has actually been there a while and is not, technically, still 'news'. He arrived in May this year; it is just that I have never yet got around to nipping over to take his picture. It is not a piece of road we would drive; we come and go from Balla-D rather than whizzing by from west to east.

As seen from the East-bound carriageway. 
He is, in fact, a "Gallowglass" warrior. Says everybody's tame expert, "Wikipedia", "The gallowglasses (also spelt galloglass, gallowglas or galloglas; from Irish: gall óglaigh meaning foreign warriors) were a class of elite mercenary warriors who were principally members of the Norse-Gaelic clans of Scotland between the mid 13th century and late 16th century." If you were an Irish regional king or warlord and you really wanted to win that fight with your neighbour, you would hire these guys to strike fear into your rival's army (and presumably duff them up a bit).

This clematis has decided not to climb my convenient ash
 poles this year, but to scramble instead, through the Lady's Mantle.
I love this piece of sculpture which I imagine cost the town a fair amount. He is on a nice rise in the ground and I keep meaning to pick a nice sunset evening and go get him silhouetted against the colours of the sunset. If you want to see him, next time you are coming in through Frenchpark and you join the by-pass, don't come off at the first exit to Cooney's, Tibohine and Ballaghaderreen, but carry on to the next exit. He is just after that first exit on your left.

This one is going to be for me! Liz completes
this lovely cabling pattern on the front panel
of the latest jumper.
Out on the Sligo house project we progress. Having pretty much finished the house, so we have moved outside back onto the 'hard landscaping'. This is all about making a garden and yard around the dwelling instead of it sitting in the middle of a building site (usual stuff - piles of rubble, stone, scrap wood, old, dead wheel barrows, a big yellow digger, dead cement bags and so on). Some of it is the stone wall building, so K-Dub and I are back remembering the old skills of stone laying, cement mixing and lugging stuff about. This rather handily uses up the piles of stone and avoids us having to double handle it. It's come from the demolished walls of the house and been stacked around the house while the house got itself built. Some of it went back into the house on the new walls and bigger gables but the rest is now being scavenged up for these garden walls. Very efficient.

Branching out from the straight knitting, Liz has now enrolled
onto some crochet lessons. This is the first, ever, test square. 
We both love this stone - Sligo stone is some manner of stratified sandstone which comes out of the ground already in flat slabs and pieces. Most of it is between about 1 and 4 inches thick, so it is like long or broad bricks which means you can lay it in a bond like brickwork. Our stone here in Roscommon is in rounded boulders about the size of your head, so impossible to lay into walls - walls here were always poured between a sandwich of timber shutters as a mix of boulders and concrete or cement. They are thick and strong but nobody would ever call them elegant, neat or beautiful.

Our friends came a-visiting with their huge St Bernard who
rides in state in the back of their capacious 4 x 4. 
Just down the hill from where we are working a proper professional stone mason is doing a gorgeous job with his stones all chipped away to size and perfect fit. His wall will be smooth like the pyramids with tiny thin joints. We are in awe of that skill but we are, even so, well pleased and delighted with our efforts. Neither of us claim to be stone masons and we know we can do this well only as a result of the lovely "pre-prepared" (by nature and by previous wall -builders!) stone we are lucky enough to have lying about the place.

Prada. Beautiful dog. 
There, by happy chance, a whole post about crafts, skills and working with your hands.

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