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    There was little cultivation in that region. The steeply sloping fields, divided from each other by an interminable succession of low stone walls, were covered, some thickly, some sparsely, with furze bushes which in their season made the whole hillside a blaze of golden colour. Everywhere there remained the evidence of bygone industry; the very walls were built of stones picked off the tillage fields, which now grew nothing but poor mossy grass, and the memory of those days was kept alive by the permanent undulations which remained in the land, telling their tale of potato drills sown in '47 and left undug by the famine-stricken population. They had remained untouched since that ill-fated autumn. Time had levelled those sterile ridges somewhat, and nature had hidden them with a covering of moss and grass. But with a low sun shining in the west every bygone drill and ridge seemed to rise out of the ground once more as the horizontal rays of the sun threw each into relief, its long, dark shadow beside it.
    The fields were too steep to be sodden with the wet, and they climbed upwards until they came to a high bank which for the moment stopped their progress. Turning round they hardly knew which way to look. To the east the great banks of clouds from which the downpour had been falling during the day hung like a soft lavender pall low down on the mountains beyond the river. A long, blue-green streak of sky cut the dense greyness in half, and gave to the little lakes below them and to the water of the river a colour of grey lavender a shade more dusky than the masses of cloud beyond. Alban's ivy-covered ruin stood out, a small but clearly defined outline on the edge of Glenowan bog. And in the west the setting sun drew a wonderful rose-pink light upon the broken clouds, and made a striking contrast to the sombre splendour of the eastern sky.
    "My God", exclaimed Con, "that's glorious. We don't half realize the beauty of the place we live in."

    Edward MacLysaght, 1920 [1919]

    Detail from the Cary map of Ireland, 1799.
    Above: detail from the Cary map of Ireland, 1799.
    Map © Cartography Associates, from the Rumsey Collection.

    Left: detail from satellite photo (click for larger version).

    Charon (MIT Project) 1989, James Coleman ©