I elicited an interesting response to yesterday's post about places names in Ireland, their origins and the bafflement of foreign tourists in dealing with the spelinge and pronunciation. My pal Chris "Rissoles" Hayes from Wexford, who has appeared on The Blob before, shared some stories of robust rural humour meted out on Yanqui tourists trying to locate themselves in the warren of strangely-named medieval streets that is Wexford town. He also told a tale (cue splutterings of barely suppressed laughter behind the back of gent generously filling a pair of plaid shorts and a bright green Guinness Hop-Store casual shirt) of a tourist totally lost between Tipperary and Limerick waving a map at a farmer and asking directions to Zero-Zero L.A.
Poor chap of course meant Oola Co Limerick, not to be confused with Oulart, Co Wexford which has its own store of interest. As you do, I went immediately to Google maps to find the place, which I must have passed through a dozen times but of which I have no memory: I must have blinked. Unless you live there or thereabouts, perhaps the most interesting thing about Oola is the strange oval field pattern to the East (http://goo.gl/maps/JgFQW):
It's about 300m x 400m, 10 hectrares in size. I had no idea what it is so I went to the Ordnance Survey (http://maps.osi.ie/publicviewer/#V1,583165,642225,6,3):
That view is a bit pale and although you can see the feature, there is no useful annotation on the current map, nor much more from the 25 inch second OSI series of the 1880s:
What's a "foot-stick"? The ever-intrusive GoogleStreetview car has even been down the lane to within 100m of the Oval, but the hedge is so dense you can't see anything through it.
There must, I thought, surely be some mention at the National Monuments Service (http://webgis.archaeology.ie/NationalMonuments/FlexViewer/) where sites are as dense across the country as currants in a cake. But although there are a a good dozen interesting items identified near the village
none of them coincide with the Oola Oval. And neither does it match the two round hillocks (which may name the village) Oolahills West and Oolahills East which name two townlands just East. I'm not sure whether to contact Chris Corlett of the Archaeological Service or check the ley-lines to see if the Oval's major axis points towards Roswell, New Mexico. Come to think of it, the feature looks a little like an enormous rissole; maybe Oola is an antient colony of Wexford (Oulart!!) and the Oval represents what they fed their mighty god Yellowbelly the Hurler.