An Irish Studies student's adventures in An Ghaeltacht: Part Two
After the stampede, we were brought to the Inis Meáin Knitting factory to sample one of the Aran Islands most notable contributions to society: The Aran sweater. The craftsmanship that goes into an Aran sweater, scarf, or hat, makes each hand-sewn piece a true work of art and well worth the substantial price tag. I treated myself to a little bronntanas [present] and then headed out to see the proof that J.M. Synge had taken Yeats up on his word.
“Teach Synge” [Synge’s Cottage] is the house where Synge stayed every summer from 1898 until 1902. It is said that he was inspired to write “The Playboy of the Western World” and “Riders to the Sea” while on Inis Meáin.
Our final stop of the day was a visit to Dún Chonchuir [Connor’s Fort], which is one of those remarkably ancient sites where the entire explanation of it includes “We think……” “We think it’s a temple, or a fort, or a house. We think it was built by…, well we don’t know who it was built by…..but it’s pre-Celtic.” Regardless of lack of information about it, Dún Chonchuir is astonishing in the same way Stonehenge is: the sheer thought of people creating something so big, with such heavy stones thousands of years before the introduction of cranes is mind boggling. Unlike Stonehenge, however, Dún Chonchuir is not guarded by wires and CCTV cameras. It is wide open to whoever wishes to walk around the stone enclosure or climb to the top of it and witness the best view on the island.
In closing, I must reiterate the advice of Yeats, and highly recommend that everyone should make a visit to Inis Meáin, and see a life that has never been expressed in literature. (Well, not recently.)
Slán go foill! [Goodbye for now!]