Monday, January 10, 2011

Famine Fields

With the latest snow melting away, the textures of the landscape are brought into fresh relief.
Up here in the Dromara Foothills, the marks of time stretch back far back, and have not been overwritten so much by the new ways.
We went up to the slopes of Slieve Croob yesterday, about 3 miles away.

The Mournes tucked between Slieve Garrann and Legananny Mountain

Another beautiful alpine day

Distant Slieve Gullion in County Armagh

Famine fields, or lazy beds are the remnants of potato cultivation during the 1800's. The repeated failures of the potato harvest in Ireland in the mid 1800's caused famine and devastation. It is a mark of the size of population and the search for new cultivation places that the fields are found in the steepest most difficult places. Their abandonment  has fossilized them, whereas the lower, better fields have continued in use, and the beds have been ploughed out.
Slieve Garron

the snow lies in the 'furrows' between the beds. All these fields were dug by hand,
these abandoned potato fields are turned over to grazing now; the field marking remain as testament to hard times

It's hard to find a great deal about lazy beds on the web. Anybody who can point up more information, please do.