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News from Folding Landscapes

The Placelore of Roundstone Parish

Part of the Folding Landscapes archive of information collected in the course of research for the books and maps will be published shortly on a CD-ROM under this title. The disc will be suitable for both PCs and Macs. It contains over 840 placenames, most of them Irish, each with translation and interpretation, location map, audio recording, and related information on local history, archaeology, folklore, geology etc.

It also includes over 370 colour photographs of landscapes, buildings, archaeological sites etc., a detailed map of the parish (taken from our one-inch map of Connemara), a bibliography of about a hundred items, and an essay on the significance of placenames. This last text originated as a lecture, 'The Seanchaí and the Database', given to the Merriman Summer School in 2003 and subsequently published in Irish Pages (ed. Chris Agee, Linen Hall Library, Belfast, Spring/Summer 2003).

Pilgrimage in Dutch

A Dutch translation of Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage will be published by Atlas, Amsterdam, this Spring, with an introduction by the novelist Cees Nooteboom.

Retrospection

At a ceremony held by the Irish Institute of Surveyors to mark Tim Robinson's work with a special award he looked back over 25 years of mapping cultural landscapes. On a related theme, his lecture, 'Farewell to the Goddess', delivered to a conference on Gaelic landscapes and culture at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye, has now been published in an Irish translation by Máire Ní Annracháin and Máire Áine Nic Gearalt, in Cruth na Tíre, ed. Máire Ní Annracháin and Wilson McLeod, Coscéim, Dublin, 2003.

Save Roundstone Bog

Save Roundstone Bog, an ad-hoc group of local residents and others concerned to protect the environment, have successfully opposed a scheme for situating an airstrip on Roundstone Bog, first at Ardagh near Clifden, and more recently on the old Marconi site at Derrygimlagh near Ballyconneely.

Bord Fáilte, The Heritage Council, An Taisce, BirdWatch Ireland, Irish Wildlife Trust, Irish Peatlands Conservation Council, Earthwatch, and Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment, as well as PlantLife and the Conservation Council in London, all expressed their concern. Eminent wildlife experts who supported us include Prof. Victor Westhoff, Prof. David Bellamy and Éamon de Buitléar. A large number of individual objections went in from Connemara and elsewhere, including several from local hoteliers, business people and farmers.

As a result, the Minister of State Éamon Ó Cuív announced that a search would be undertaken for an alternative site. This has now been found; it is by the Cleggan-Clifden road in the townlands of Cloon and Laghtanabba. Planning permission has been granted to the Clifden Airport Group for an Aer-Arann type strip of 800 metres here, with the condition that construction is not to start before a strip in Inishbofin is begun.

Save Roundstone Bog is ready to accept the less sensitive site and reduced scale of the new proposal as a reasonable compromise. It is well away from Roundstone Bog, and while it is on perfectly good blanket bog that ideally should be preserved, it is near forestry and a road. We believe that while an airstrip for Connemara is neither necessary nor desirable (because of increased aeroplane noise, etc.) there are arguments in favour of the proposed air links with the islands of Inishbofin and Inisturk. So we feel that the matter is no longer of such general significance and may be left to those immediately affected for good or ill by the scheme. We would like to thank all those who helped so generously with time and money in the campaign to protect Roundstone Bog.

Windfarms in the Aran Islands

Comharchumann Inis Meáin, the island co-op, under the management of Pól Ó Foighil, has installed three 150-foot-high wind turbines on the south shore of the island, despite objections from An Taisce, The Heritage Council, Friends of the Irish Environment, Tim Robinson, Tarlach de Blácam (a founder member of the island co-op) and others. The site is in a proposed Special Area of Conservation, a National Heritage Area, and an Area of Outstanding Scenic Amenity. An appeal to An Bord Pleanála was turned down in March 2000.

This decision is one of the worst of recent years; if wind turbines are to be permitted in this unique landscape with its almost perfectly preserved 18th-19th-century field system, we can expect them to be cropping up throughout all the west. Tim Robinson appealed to the islanders not to go ahead with the scheme at a conference on planning organised by the co-op of the neighbouring island of Inis Oírr. Read what he said.