The very kind blogger who writes at thethirdapple.wordpress.com nominated me for a Beautiful Blogger award. Firstly, I am, of course, most grateful and flattered. Secondly, I will follow the instructions on the award as well as I can, given that I am new to this process. I imagine that this is a method of spreading publicity for blogs, and to that end, I am willing to go a little way and help whoever I can in the process. Fourthly, however, I am a little nervous about this. This fudges some boundaries for me between self-promotion and genuine merit and I am a little wary of some of the implications. Fifthly, nevertheless, I maintain my equinamity and soldier on, not least because it is quickly becoming dark and I still have to go for a walk.
Therefore, here are my seven facts:
1. In old and modern Gaelic gam(h)uin, gen. gam(h)na, is a ‘stirk’ – a calf, heifer or bullock of less than a year. The Gamanrad or gamhanraidh were, therefore, the people of the calves. Did this mean they brought calves with them? Where did they come from?
2. They were pre-Gaelic, they were from central Europe – but no one seems to know more than that. They were of the Fir-Bolg people who are semi-mythical but there is no doubt they were real people.
3. One branch settled here in Erris, in County Mayo, while two other branches went, respectively, to Galloway, in south-western Scotland, and to Devon, in the south-west of England. These places are very distant from one another, three different points on these isles. Why did they choose these places?
4. There are many tales of their chivallry and brave deeds, and also of their fantastic wealth (in cattle, but also in gold), the beauty of their women, and their brilliance at poetry and song. They were warriors first and foremost. Other people already lived in Erris, but they came in and took over. They may well just have appropriated the place for themselves but there is no record of their having wiped out the local population. Did they use them as serfs? Did they intermingle with them at all? Considering that this was a pastoralist economy (and the local populace was likely to be hunter-gatherer/fisherfolk) would there necessarily have been a problem with land use?
5. The land here must have been teeming with waterfowl and reed and marsh beds. How did they clear enough land to graze their cattle? This is not really a fact – it’s more of an educated guess.
6. What was their relationship with the sea? How could they have come here, via the sea, from eastern or central Europe? This, again, is not a fact. However, it is a fact that at around the time when the Gamanrad were supposed to have first come to Erris – say, three thousand years ago – there was a mini dip in global temperature. Why would you go north when the climate was getting worse?
7. I am not from Erris at all. I come from the Highlands of Scotland, although actually both my parents were from other parts of the UK so I was brought up there, rather than native to those parts. Perhaps my favourite old poem, then, is the Aeneid, which begins, as you know, with the line, I sing of arms, and of a (man – for which I, in my head, replace woman), who, exiled by fate… etc. The reason that I like this line is because it strikes me that to a degree, we are all exiles. The Gamanrad were like exiles, which is why I can identify with them. And that longing for a place that no longer exists – solastalgia, it is called – is also the sense I have, and the sense I get from others who have been through an extended exile.
Now I just have to work out how to link thethirdapple, and then how to nominate seven others for this award….
and… after several telephones, searches for photographs of kids being born (etc, don’t ask), I come back to this to find that I need email addresses in order to nominate people, and I don’t have email addresses, so, here’s a list anyhow:
http://www.dearkitty1.wordpress.com (topical, thoughtful, activist)
http://www.eddiekaysblog.wordpress.com (interesting insights into words)
http://www.matthewkr.com (great views on philosophy)
I’m not sure how many I have to do.
http://www.alidoesit.wordpress.com (because I may not make anything here, but it’s inspiring, and it looks a lot like you come from Newfoundland which is one of my favourite places in the world)