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Forgotten Dream

Gallarus-Oratory

I was all of twelve years old and very impressionable; we were in 1954 Southern Rhodesia, an exciting country, wide open spaces, not many towns and even these were spread, miles apart from one another.

My father was the sole representative for a brewing company and travelled around the country a great deal, often taking me on trips along with him during my school holidays.

As long as I live, I will never forget the sight of one of the greatest water falls in the world, Victoria Falls. That was such a notable experience that I remember writing an essay about it at school. I was fascinated by the history we were taught at school regarding David Livingstone who was the first European to discover the falls and Cecil John Rhodes after whom The Rhodesia’s were named.

Victoria falls

On one of these trips with my Father, we visited the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. This experience was probably the most haunting in my life.  I recall, with such clarity, the typically clear day standing in this massive granite structure where hued stones were laid one upon another to form fortress-like walls. A gentle breeze wafted through the structure bearing a distinct scent which was given off by the damp patina on the stones. As I stood, in the cooling breeze, there was complete silence apart from the cry of two eagles flying high above the ruins. I sensed a deeply spiritual presence, particularly in the area on a nearby hilltop, then referred to as ‘The Temple.’ My Father and I were the lone visitors at that moment.

Great Zimbabwe Ruins

I began to wonder, and even visualize, to some extent, those that might have built such a creation and the reason for them doing so. A leaflet at the curator’s office suggested that the ruins were as many as three thousand years old and that they were built by Phoenician or Arab Traders. Since new information has come to light, it is now suggested, they were more likely, built between 900 to 1100 ce and this by a Shona trading empire.

Unaware as I was a seed was planted in, not just my mind, but my soul!

It took some sixty years and immigration to Ireland before I discovered why I was so interested in people and the history of peoples. I loved visiting museums, ancient historical sites. The more I was able to travel to different countries, the more I came to wanting to search and dig deeper.

In my new host country, Ireland, which I entered at the beginning of the lockdown measures, I realized that I was in a place that had traceable history dating back 10,000 years! Unlike Sub-Saharan Africa, whose population, in the main, led nomadic lives, and never kept records. Ireland, by contrast, has records dating back to 431 ce concerning the ordination by Pope Celestine I of Palladius as the first bishop to Irish Christians. More than likely, there could be documentation before this date. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ireland_(400%E2%80%93800)

There is the Gallarus Oratory built in 700 CE and one of the oldest surviving structures in Ireland.

Gallarus Oratory 700CE

It would appear therefore that I have landed with my rear end in a great dollop of Irish historical butter!

Seriously though, I have now found, for the first time in my life, I am able to actively involve myself in the study of human societies and cultures and their development in my host country; and this activity is called Anthropology. So my new hobby is just that, Anthropology!

Before we were restricted to a 5km radius of our homes, I managed to make some discoveries in our county, Wicklow, which revealed many interesting facts.

Whilst I wait for travel further afield to open up, I shall continue with the astronomical amount of on-line information offered in our day.

It is my intention then, to publish monthly articles of historically humanitarian genre within Ireland.

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