Oristown – Fading Light

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Innocent Landscapes, Resumed Search, Oristown, March, 2011

I returned to Oristown last weekend. I had been there a number of times since I last wrote about it but no pictures had emerged on those trips and the voice within was without so no words flowed. In the last few weeks there has been a sense of a veil being drawn on a slow walk to an inevitable conclusion that offered scant comfort. On a rather beautiful misty day that seemed permanently hovering at twilight I was greeted upon my arrival by the soft sound of the JCB’s growling towards me across the bog.  A symphony of swinging and clawing arms were leveling and adjusting the soft dark bog. In no mood for explanations at this point I left them to it and went for a drive returning some time later to a silent gentle breeze that gifted me now with the sound of spring birds.

I walk down the same lane that I have strolled along on and off for twelve years and more recently with consistency since last July. Buds are emerging from the trees that line the route to the three banks of turf that extend for over 300 metres before coming to a bog wall that will be the source of next years fuel. Each bank is about 30 metres wide and I decide to walk along one of them, counting my exaggerated footsteps in order to estimate just how far this slow race has been. I stop counting at two hundred and twelve.

Within this approximate 200m length of a shuffled memory within each bank of turf, nothing has emerged. Already part of the restored bog is resisting recent attempts to give it a respectable shape and attempts have been made to restrain it with trunks of silver birch trees, which remind me of the yearlong unyielding search at nearby Wilkinstown. These sharpened stakes driven deep into the side walls remind me of ribs straining to contain an intake of breath.

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Innocent Landscapes, Resumed search, Oristown, March, 2011

Brendan Megraw according to one truth lies somewhere in this bog – Emlagh Bog, Oristown – but for now, the only truth is that his ongoing absence is an unresolved loss. Later as I return to my car and look back across the memory banks that stretch away from me from out of nowhere I think of the wonderful poem ‘The Shout’ by Simon Armitage.

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And while we cannot hear you some of us are still listening.

77EXH Oristown,2000

Innocent Landscapes, relatives visiting site, 2000