Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

A common sight, becoming crowded mind you by the “ghost estate”, across rural Ireland is the “pile of stones”.  The pile of stones are original two room houses either abandoned or fallen into absolute disrepair in a field, or beside a more sizeable newer maison, or failing that, used only for the storage of turf, or farming related gear.

The houses consisted of two rooms only with a fireplace at each end. There were usually no bathrooms (these would have been added). What’s interesting about them is/was the one floor, two room approach. They’re utilitarian on many levels include the containment of heat, or generating of heat (not an easy undertaking believe me). Undoubtably people would dismiss them as an example of the limitations of poverty, but within that very restriction practical things were addressed. Overcrowding wasn’t one of them obviously, but perhaps the demarcation between inside and outside and the interaction between those two lives and provision of one for the other.

I was watching a Prime Time piece on the right to cut turf and something of a war is errupting that further underscores the rural/urban divide in Ireland. The Green lobby argue for preservation of the remaining bogs, the other side remain militant over the continued right to cut turf.

My ma switched to an oil fired range in her kitchen some years ago, while yes there was immediate heat, the price of oil soared and the fumes of the range were, on the last inhale, dreadful. I regretted her dismissing the previous solid fuel range, which needed some pretty serious repair because the smoke was overpowering. The oil fired range refused to work during the worst of this year’s winter there and she was without heat (and water) for some three weeks waiting on a man to come and fix it in perishing cold temperatures of -12. Whatever of the solid fuel seal being gone, at least she could have fired in a few sods and got some heat from it.  I don’t entirely see how this “turf war” will pan out. You’ve such a reliance on the turf in that part of the country for heat, and what exactly is the worst of the two evils: continue to destroy the bog or fund oil fueled invasions of foreign countries.

The irony isn’t lost on the matter that this now is an urban/rural quandary, since when I lived in Dublin we were all burning Bord na Mona briquettes!

At this point we should be able to generate a solid fuel from the other waste we create. No government seems willing to tackle the plastic monopoly. Produce etc is fired into plastic and the plastic is fired into the landfill and that equation remains a daft one.

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