Saturday 28 April 2018

An Traisce

An Taisce [recently], the National Trust for Ireland, is charged "to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage". This remit falls under three headings
  • Advocacy - they write, mostly indignant, Letters to the Minister about the destruction of our built and natural heritage.
  • Properties - they hold and maintain a few handfuls of random properties around the country
  • Education - they develop education and information packs and brochures
Apart from what they do in schools, I think they are mostly preaching to a rather peculiar choir of people who'd rather spend Saturday in The Wilds than in The Mall buying more plastic jim-crack from China. An example of this is their cunning plan, now in its 20th year, to promote and support an Annual Spring-Clean of the local ordinary environment. That's not the stately homes, Victorian monuments and spectacular mountains but the local roads and by-ways which we drive through in order to visit the touristy bits. Drive through is the operative phrase because nobody walks along these minor roads anymore unless they have a dog that must be walked or a death-wish and a high-viz jacket to provide a target for the boy-racers. It's a peculiar choir because only a teeny-tiny fraction of the population is interested is picking trash out of the hedgerows. Our mailing list is a dozen of the usual suspects from a population of a few hundred. I reckon we've been doing it for about 10 of those 20 years. Before Dau.I and Dau.II left home, we'd all do it as a family - sending the children into the more inaccessible brambles so as not to tear my jodhpurs. After the girls left, it was less fun. Last year I pursed my lips, folded my arms and refused to clear our stretch of the Upper Road through the valley; it seemed such a thankless task.

This year, today is Spring-Clean Day locally, which is really late. Cleaning is meant to happen in April - because there is the chance of warm, or at least dry, days to do it but before the vegetation takes off and makes the coke tins and plastic sandwich packs invisible. A week will make a big difference in whether the work is easy or jungly and brutal. But the long cold, wet Spring has delayed vegetable take-off this year, so it has not been too bad. Yes, that is past tense because I did our 700m stretch on Wednesday: one half starting at 0600hrs before judging the local chapter of SciFest2018 and the other half from 1800hrs afterwards.
One end of the road [see above branch R] has a 1798 monument [above centre] in a little clump of trees which comes with a tiny 4 car gravelled pull-off and a picnic table. This is an obvious place to dump your broken kitchen appliances, so it is important to clean the obvious rubbish out of there lest the place become a known trash-magnet and we finish up with a hape of mattresses and fridge-freezers. The broken window hypothesis may be relevant. Accordingly, I started at the monument and filled a tuthree trash-bags there, topped off with a final Lucozade bottle from the outside edge of the monument retaining wall,then and set off down the road. When I returned an hour later, there was another Lucozade bottle in more or less the same place. Unless these fashion-accessory drinks are sporulating, that second bottle must have been fecked out of the window by a passing motorist. Furthermore, that passing motorist must have seen an ould chap picking trash out of the ditches further down the road - in Ireland you're not allowed to drive if you are blind. It probably seemed a hilarious comment of the fatuity of cleaning trash out of the drains. It is the same mentality that thinks it is appropriate to urinate on homeless people as they doze in shop doorways, or finds it funny to push a blind-man backwards over his seeing-eye dog.

Trash is always with us and on one level it is fatuous to clean it up because it will be back the next day. My father had a parable on this matter which I will share with you now.
Dean Swift and the Boot-boy.
Dean Swift (he of Gulliver's Travels) paused in a journey through the muddy streets of Dublin to have his boots cleaned and blacked by a boot-boy. The waggish young entrepreneur recognised his celebrity customer and asked
"Why, Mr. Swift, do you bother to get your boots cleaned, when they will be all muddy again in 5 minutes?"
To which the Reverend sWIfT replied
"Why, my boy, do you bother to eat when you will be hungry again in an hour?"

This story used to leave my father's children speechless with rage and frustration every time we heard it . . . which was often.

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