By Bernie Bell
Reading of conversations with grave-diggers https://www.thebrochproject.co.uk/single-post/2017/11/26/the-broch-under-the-church , reminded me of my Dad’s friendship with the gravedigger at Drumcliffe in County Sligo, Republic of Ireland. Dad and his grave-digger mate used to sit in the pub at Rosses Point and tell tales of what had been found, and seen, in the churchyard – some true, some not-so-true, as Dad’s approach was why spoil a good story with facts.
Drumcliffe Church and graveyard stand on an ancient site, and the whole area has an air about it. Think of the other ‘sites’ in that area. Carrowmore Neolithic Cemetery, Creevykeel Court Cairn, and……Knocknarea Cairn – which hasn’t been excavated !!!!.
And that brought forth another memory. Many years ago Mike and I climbed Knocknarea, and the cairn. These days, going up the cairn is frowned on, but we were there before it had become such a hot-spot on the ‘tourist trail’ of Ireland.
Mike and I stood on top of the mound and looked about us. Folk had gathered stones and written words around the cairn, mostly along the lines of ‘Joe and Mary ‘, but we noticed that one wag had spelt out the word ‘COCK’ in big stones! We thought it was a hoot!
Afterwards, we went to a nearby shop to get some postcards and believe it or not, there were cards there with the view from the cairn, including the rude word! Either the photographer hadn’t noticed, or another wag was at work. I bought a few and sent them to those that I thought would appreciate them, but I kept one and still have it. You can see the waggish word in this pic of the postcard – bottom right hand corner……..
The last time Mike and I went to Knocknarea the words had been cleared away as the authorities take a dim view of such shenanigans. I don’t think it will stop people – I think they will still leave their messages to the sky – it’s a very human thing to do. Though it might be more likely to read ‘J 4 M’, these days.
I mentioned the tourist trail…..last time Mike and I went to Knocknarea, right on the top of the cairn we found one of the stickers that are attached to visitors visiting New Grange. I can imagine a tour – New Grange, sticker on to get on the bus, making sure you stay with your group and don’t stay too long before getting back on the bus. Then, across Ireland, maybe stopping briefly along the way at other sites, then – Knocknarea, where the sticker drops off.
It was paper, it would rot, but……..