Belmont Road

10:27 AM Posted by Anya Ventura
53.2371 -7.87569
The sun was shining today so Steve and I took off to explore the ruins in our immediate vicinity. Our roughly mile-long trek led us along Belmont Road to the Judge’s Ruins, the old train station, and the former lemonade bottling plant before finally landing us on the small intersection I’ve come to know as the “town.” Compared to the quiet of Oiserbrook cottages, the corner of road housing Cahill’s pub and grocery store is positively bustling. Right down the street is the famed Larry’s Old Time Village and the restored Belmont Mills. We also passed the public housing estates boasting a small pavilion with a broken water fountain – this last bit of information was generously provided by a preadolescent on a pop music-blaring bicycle, after we stood in front of the stone structure for awhile scratching our heads. So, it wasn’t a pagan burial mound after all, but ruins of a different sort. While waiting for the rest of the gang to ferry us to the Ferbane public library, our unofficial clubhouse, we took the opportunity to pour over the public sculpture (bog people!), commemorative plaques, and the local map. As something of a map enthusiast, I enjoyed charting our walking route. It was also interesting to look at how these official markers helped make sense of the place.
However, my favorite site by far was the Judge’s Ruins. I later found out, according to A History of Clonogan Parish, that the building once belonged to a local doctor who would dole out medicine outside his home, hence the name Dispensary Hill. Under the watchful eyes of grazing cows, we scrambled inside. The structure was beautiful: overgrown with ivy, etched with graffiti. The graffiti I found especially touching; like the initials carved on the trees or the cursive lining the wooden beams of the mill, it’s just another way of humans making their mark on the landscape, of saying “I was here.” Is this different from the official plaques on the Belmont street corner?
I’m getting excited thinking of my project as a kind of in-depth, micro-touristic account. Thinking of travel in expansionist terms is seductive – “the more ground I cover, the better!” I sometimes think, and maybe that is the American way. After all, we are about space, and having lots of it. The other night we were joking about the old show tune “Don’t fence me in,” which goes “give me land, lots of land, under starry skies at night/don’t fence me in.” And that, truly, is the national ethos. I would like to conceive of this project as an exercise in mapping the overlooked and ordinary – those sites that disappear in the rhythms of the everyday. I think it also makes sense for me to frame my project spatially rather than chronologically, and there is something about the simplicity of exploring the mile-long stretch of country road that appeals to me poetically.