There’s not much history in my immediate area. No, of course there is – I live in Northern Ireland; the place teems with history, most of it profoundly distressing.
What I really mean is, you need to look hard for it, at least where architecture is concerned. I live in the country, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, and I walk every morning. Few of the houses I pass on my daily walks are younger than I am. I’m always struck, when I’m in England, by how many more old houses there are, still lived in and living and beautiful, if only in their enduring. Though we cling stubbornly to the past in many ways in NI, that hasn’t always extended to preserving our built heritage.
Most of the houses I pass are fairly new, many of them replacement dwellings. These houses don’t interest me much: what intrigues me is seeking out what they replaced – the tiny cottages where families of ten were reared, the farmhouses turned into cowsheds or fallen into heaps of stones.
I'm a blow in. I don't know anything about the families who once lived in these places. I imagine their children setting off for school or mass, (other forms of worship were available, but not in the immediate vicinity, which in itself tells us something), walking the roads I walk now. They would have looked in the fields as I do every morning, and seen the sheep and cattle and their young -- different breeds, perhaps, from the ones who thrive on these hills today. They would have seen some of these houses being built and would not have thought of a time -- not so very far in the future really -- when they would have been left to tumble down. When only a passing writer, obsessed with the past and seeking inspiration for a monthly historical blog post, would stop and pay attention.
All these pictures were taken yesterday morning on a five mile walk. I hope you like them.