Autumn 2009 Volume 23 No. 3 Issue No. 89
F E A T U R E S
08 Obituary: Blaze O’Connor, 1975–2009
09 In search of the ‘Bully’s Acre’
11 From the archives: an aerial photographic survey from Dun Laoghaire to Clogher Head, November 1940
16 The Grange of Clonkeen, Co. Dublin.
‘When it’s too late for a dig’: a nonarchaeologist seeks out a site in suburbia
18 A killeen burial ground in St
Laurencesfields and the lepers of Loughrea
22 U-boat losses off the Irish coast
26 The Cloghoge and Inchavore valleys,
30 Know your monuments: Medieval fisheries
34 Not one foot in the grave—two feet in the attic
36 The ‘bawn’ of a new era at Bellaghy
38 ‘Preservation by destruction’
48 Letter: Bullaun observations
L A R S
R E G U
07 Net news
43 Book news
Cover image: Bow of one of 88 type VIIC/41 attack U-boats (U-1271) resting on the seabed 10km north of Malin Head. (Photo courtesy of Barry McGill)
Fusing time Ordinary structures and objects that would have been common in their own time can disappear very rapidly indeed. Their value as ‘containers’ of archaeological information can often be underestimated. What questions might be answered through archaeological research might not be known until sites and objects are subjected to investigation. Indeed, what questions might be posed in the first place might also escape us unless we look.
As time inexorably marches on, the stuff subject to archaeological study increases. Not so long ago prehistory would have been the primary target of archaeological research. These days almost anything goes! All around the world archaeologists and anthropologists are using conventional archaeological methodologies to study campsites, open-air concert venues, graffiti and wall paintings. It would appear that the age of an individual site and whether it is prehistoric or not doesn’t particularly matter. What’s important is whether it provides an insight or insights into the human condition in the past.
The articles on U-boats and on Luftwaffe aerial photography in this issue of Archaeology Ireland are reminders of just how quickly events and things are committed to the past and, in spite of purpose-built memorials and monuments and annual ceremonies, how aspects of what happened can be abandoned on the threshold of oblivion.
The passage of time ensures that those who lived through past events also pass away. The numbers of people who participated in and experienced the events of the First World War have dwindled significantly. The younger generation today are finding out about the Second World War through the stories that have been handed down from their parents’ parents. With the disappearance of this first-hand knowledge and experience, the physical legacy of these global events becomes important as they provide tangible access to these otherwise welldocumented conflicts.
The same process applies to national, regional and local events, whether it be the location of one of Daniel O’Connell’s Monster Meetings (and how they worked in an era before public address systems!), a Famine-period vernacular house or the serried ranks of terraced houses that surrounded the great factories of the industrial era. The list could go on and on.
The physical nature of such things, when explored, would no doubt illuminate aspects of past societies that might otherwise be unrecorded, and perhaps even unsuspected. More importantly, through study the knowledge of such things is passed on to another generation.
As more modern and even contemporary phenomena are subject to archaeological scrutiny, it could be said that we are bringing the past closer to the present. This fusion of time will no doubt assist in helping us to understand the nature of people in the past, who we are today and what we may become in the future.