On my way into Clogheen I come across new houses. Only new houses, as it has been for most of my journey. The housing spree has left the Irish countryside riddled with new houses. Most of them or just nice enough family houses, some tend to be a bit more posh. All of them with at least one new car in front of them. The Irish did the same thing as the Dutch did when cheap loans were offered: buy! Many Irish are even deeper in debt then the Dutch, but the ones I speak to on my journey say that if you built on your own land, as did most of them in the country side, it is not that big a problem. I wonder. the Irish are even less then the Dutch forthcoming with information on their financial situation.
I also wonder where all these people lived before they lived here. Many old houses must have been demolished, there is not trace to be seen. Oh, there are old houses, ruins, abandoned and so on. But not as many as there are new ones. Only farms seem to be what they have been for long: old but functional buildings, making the neccesary meet the possibility. I only wonder how they can produce milk under these inefficient circumstances, any Dutch farm would have gone under years ago!
Clogheen is a place where all this seems to come together. From afar it looks like a peaceful and beautiful village in the Vee valley. Especially with the rhodondendron blossoming it is a stunning view. When I enter the village, it gives me a grubby and depressive feeling. Many houses and buildings on main street are closed. Some in half ruins, some just a little while ago. People look tired and worried. Or is this my imagination combining things? The fruit and vegetables shop has closed in the early 80’s, judging by its window shop.
The Vee Hotel closed long before that, by the looks of its facade. Some 70 years ago, I would say. The two churches look shiny and new, the grass cut short. But they are closed as well. Mass only on Sundays, it says. Pubs look like pubs tend to look in most villages: run down and shabby. They have an image to live up to.
It’s a strange thing in this village. You can see the coming up and decline of decades. It’s like a walk down archeaological lane, a spade in the ground that shows you the different layers that have been deposited by time. Only here you can see them all in one.
It also makes me wonder how people perceive themselves over time, under different circumstances, with different possibilities and how it makes them into who they become.