Saturday, August 13, 2005

The demise of the fairies

When we built our cottage here in the west of Ireland twenty-five years ago, the road we built on was little more than a rough track. The "Fairies Road" the old people called it, and wondered why anyone would want to live up there on the hill with the wild winds and unpredictable spirits. It was also called the Lover's Walk, a place of courtship for the young people of the village. The official name is Bothar a Chinn. When we came here, I was told by an old person that this translated "the road of the keening," from the mournful sound of the wind on the hill. Brendan Kavanaugh, a placenames expert with the Irish Ordnance Survey and a native of the village, assures me the proper translation is "the road at the head (of the fields)." It is here that arable fields give way to bog.

Today, the road has been paved -- although it is still a single lane -- and is considered a very desirable place to live, with splendid views over Ventry Harbor and Dingle Bay. The fairies have been banished from the hill by the Irish economic miracle, and young lovers are presumably in bed somewhere.