Exhibition, Áras Inis Gluaire, Belmulett, Co. Mayo, Ireland, 10 June – 10 July 2016 INSTALLATION VIEW
The Point of Deliverance, The Ledge of the Cormorant, The Thieving Ledge, The Speckled Cliff, The Three Hags of the Promontory, The Big Spur, The Fool’s Hollow, The Cliff of the Eagles, are the English translations of the remembered given Irish Language names of specific headlands, rock formations, handed down in the Oral History of the Erris Peninsula, North Mayo, Ireland.
A visual interpretation of the work of local historians, Treasa Ní Ghearraigh and Uinsíonn Mac Graith who have researched and published , “The Placenames and Heritage of Dún Chaocháin “. Drawing on living memory and local history, they have recorded the given names assigned to rock formations, cliffs and areas of land before they pass out of the vocabulary of everyday life.
In the making of these photographs, personal challenges have been confronted, examined and questioned. Is there an emotion between the mesmeric and pure fear? Does the scale of the drop from the cliff edge to the dark water below become subsumed in the tantalizing detail which demands your attention? Just a breath of a footstep too near to the edge. Is the wind a little high? Is that gust you feel at your back too strong? Is there the emotion which is a cross between exhilaration and tiredness? Have you just been out there too long in the wild open space, no boundaries, time only marked by the passage of the sun to its setting place, chasing shadows and highlights across the headlands. Alone you must make the decision and chose the correct time to walk back from the edge, to the calm embrace of flat bogland and a less harsh wind.
WITH PERMISSION OF TREASA NÍ GHEARRAIGH AND UNSÍONN MAC GRAITH
Extracts from: Logainmneacha agus Oidhreacht Dhún Chaocháin i mBarúntacht Iorrais, Condae Mhaigh Eo – The Placenames and Heritage of Dún Chaocháin in the Barony of Erris, County Mayo, Uinsíonn Mac Graith agus Treasa Ní Ghearraigh, Comhar Dún Chaocháin Teo, 2004
Dún Chaocháin is situated in the parish of Kilcommon, in the Barony of Erris in north-west County Mayo. It occupies a coastal position with Broadhaven Bay to the north and west and Donegal Bay to the north east.
The early Celts did not produce written fiction – instead they wrote their novels on the landscape. The community of Dún Chaocháin can easily identify with their environment because they live in a landscape that is dotted with Irish placenames, which give meaning to features on that landscape and which give them a place in the lives of the people. The maps shown in this publication and on the Dún Chaocháin CD ROM illustrate the wealth of placenames in this area, which if left unrecorded would be lost to future generations. Many of these names have never been recorded previously on a map and therefore the collection and mapping of them ensures their preservation.It is difficult to attach any meaning to existing English placenames as many are corrupted versions of the original Irish form.
Local placenames give us an insight into the natural and manmade landscape and peoples’ perception of that landscape and seascape. They are highly descriptive of the physical landscape where every inlet, cave, reef, rock, hill, headland, field, stream etc. is imbued with its own special name.
“The northern coast of Erris, on the other hand, is grandly precipitous, with cliffs up to 800 feet high, set with jagged promontories, deep gullies and outlying stacks, the whole forming the finest piece of cliff scenery in the country. It is almost unknown to the visitor, for it lies far from the highway which links Killala (Cill Alaidh, church of Aladh?) with Belmullet ; but little roads lead across the moorland to Portacloy (Port an chlaidhe, landing place of the rampart), Porturlin (Port urlainn) and Belderg (Béal dearg, red fort mouth), narrow inlets in the precipice; and from these one can traverse the whole length of this wild coast”. (Robert Llyod Praeger, The Way That I Went, Dublin, 1937, p. 196)
The rocks on this stretch of coastline are among the oldest in Britain and Ireland, equivalent in age to those which form the Outer Hebrides. Composed mainly of shales, schists and gneisses, these rocks result from tectonic processes which occurred in Pre-Cambrian times ie. 600 million years ago. The Stags of Broadhaven, a collection of five impressive sea stacks 3 km. from the mainland, were laid down between 650 and 950 million years ago and consist of schist. Their rock formation is similar to that of Scotch Port on the Mullet Peninsula which was upheaved at the same time. Along the coast to the north is a chain of hills which are composed largely of Dalradian quartzite, stretching from Barr na Binne Buí in the west to Binn Bhuí Ghaothbhioráin in the east. There is a distinct change in rock formation at Béal Deirg. The Dalradian schist and quartzite to the west gives way to a Carboniferous strata in the east.