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Audio essay 1 by Anja Murray. October 2021
Travelling through Time: Drumlins & Bogs
For many thousands of years, Ireland was covered in enormous ice sheets, moving across the landscape at a glacial pace, carving out valleys and shaping mountains. The farmed green plains we see today have come out in the wash, where ice lost its load of sand and gravel, sculpted into drumlins and plains. The landscapes we know and love were made by ice, moving and shaping, travelling always onward.
One of the ways we know which direction each mass of ice was moving in, is by the orientation of drumlins, shoaling hills moulded by glaciers and fast flowing glacial meltwater, like ripples in the sand when the tide goes out. Here the road skirts the axis of each tapering drumlin, following the direction set by the ice, yet carving its own new route though the hills, excavating and raising, cutting a route that is quicker, linear, and direct.
Ice sheets also shaped the Bricklieve Mountains we see to the south, carving through their limestone layers, leaving gentle slopes now dotted with cairns that watch out over us. The bones of ancient ancestors entombed in Carrowkeel, watching over the land they once knew so well, watching over these descendants, who now build otherworldly carriageways for unfathomable metal chariots, sculpting our own indelible mark on land below and air above.
Curbing around the soft liminal bog, where layers of history and carbon are buried away, where time is stilled and preserved. The landscape has so many stories to tell, from glaciers and ancestors to rapid warming of the atmosphere. All to be taken in as we throttle on and view the wonders through a glass.
Audio essay 2 by Anja Murray. October 2021
Four legged journeys
Travelling the road. For love. For family. For work. For adventure. Taking in the landscape as we pass. Glimpsing the changing light on the boggy distance. Whizzing by Ash and Oak as they wave their leafy branches in the wind, we throttle on through, destination set. But walking the road, feet treading tarmac, details become clear. Little paw prints in the mud show where badger and fox have travelled. Where were they off to? Were they nursing young? Will they know to circumvent the road, to take the underpass? Badgers know their place, territories tightly held. Resting in underground setts by day. Venturing out under cover of darkness to forage, feed, and mingle. Following hedges as routes, sheltering in pockets of woodland and scrub. Smelling the land for slugs and earthworms that will fill their little tummies. Travelling the same well-worn routes through the landscape, like us, generation after generation. Like us, they are connected to place, familiar with the features of their territory. Returning each autumn to the sweet same apple tree, remembering the bounty of blackberries by the bend of the old stone ditch. Badgers know the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the landscapes they inhabit. Only on occasion is there need to travel widely, though I doubt the destination is ever so set as with us. It’s the journey that matters.
Audio essay 3 by Anja Murray. October 2021
Look closely at the ponds by the side of the route, where frog spawn are taking shape, protected in the wetness of forgotten corners.
Each year since before we or they can remember, frogs follow the same age old frog paths from damp hollows to a familiar lake shore.
To dry out means to die. So travelling, as they do, can be risky business, there must be wet places to shelter and refresh. A safe route for a frog follows wet ditches, stream sides and damp, flower filled fields.
When the sun strikes down, it’s time to hide among moist moss growing from old boulder.
Gentle slopes of old wet fields flank the road that now passes through. Yellow flag iris in soggy field bottoms hold their heads high in summer, announcing refuge for creatures who share the same inclination for wet and liminal places. Frogs, snails, slugs, delicate damselflies, web weaving spiders. All these and more exist here in nourishing networks of interdependent lives.
Travelling reaches its peak for frogs on a full moon in the fertile warmth of spring, when each must make its annual expedition to age old mating and spawning grounds. Hundreds or even thousands of frogs convene from far and wide, gathering on a suitable stretch of lakeshore or pond, arriving via routes used for many generations before them. To declare their readiness, frog males call out loudly, hoping to attract a female with eggs ready to receive a new dollop of DNA. Moonlight brightens the path to love, the soundscape signs the route. The destination here is absolute, an amorous embrace in a very set place is the most important thing.