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Lay of the Land: Fields of dreams serve both as reminders of our past and pointers to the future

Fiona O'Connell


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Céide Fields in Co Mayo

Céide Fields in Co Mayo

Céide Fields in Co Mayo

Change is the only constant, so the philosophers are fond of telling us, and certainly time has not stood still around this country town. Just as change was happening long before I happened upon it, with older locals remarking on the many years it’s been since they’ve heard the call of the corncrake that was common during their childhood.

It reminds us that some changes are the result of our shifting priorities, especially with the focus on so-called progress, with its twin pillars of economics and efficiency, the latter a word I have come to distrust because of the devastating consequences it invariably wreaks on the land. There are now noticeably fewer of the little fields that were once so characteristic of this country, as they are steadily replaced by massive swathes of land that seem to stretch as far as the eye can see, perhaps because they have swallowed up the hedgerows that used to divide them in the process. 


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