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.