Mother Ireland - The price of progress!


Fadó, fadó, nuair a bí mé óg, say fifty years ago, if you were motoring through a village or town in any part of Ireland in the small hours of a black stormy night, the streets would be deserted; not a light would be seen, not even the smallest flicker peeping through a window, nothing but the pitch black darkness; a ghostly silence reigned the dark deserted streets and the only noise would be from your car engine, barely audible above the sound of the rain battering the windscreen and drowning the monotonous flapping of your wiper blades. You might feel apprehensive, unsure of what lay ahead, maybe, a fallen tree or a flooded road or worse.

Suddenly, the headlights of your car would show up a lone figure in the recess of a shop doorway or perhaps standing motionless at a street corner. Just as you looked at it, the figure would flash a torchlight and signal you on in the direction you were going. It was letting you know it had observed you and decided you were in no danger, and that you were under its protection and the road ahead was safe. You relaxed them and felt safe. You knew that you would meet the dark reassuring figure several times again, maybe in unexpected places, before journey’s end.

Do you know who or what that dark figure was and what it was doing there at that God forsaken hour? I’ll tell you! That was the figure of a member of the respected force of the Gárda Síochána, quietly protecting the slumbering town or village and the occasional traveller, the like of you or me, who might be abroad at that unearthly hour.

Let me ask you this! Where is that dedicated guardian of the peace to day? I’ll tell you! He left us long ago. He left with the local Garda Barracks like Gowna, Glengevlin, Ballyhaise and Blacklion ; he departed like the small shopkeeper and the country shop and the cheerful sound of children playing in the village street. He vanished with the srútháns and the shucks and the hedges around small fields and the small farmer briaring up a gap; - d’imthing sé léis na sceachanna in a bí na mílte éanlaith in a gcónaí. He vanished like Shining castle in the parish of Killann, like the fairy forts, bog lands and the lark in the clear air; all vanished imperceptibly over time.

We didn’t notice their going until they were gone; gone like the Fair of Kesh and the train from Killeshandra and the great railway station of Belturbet where passengers on the narrow-gauge line from Leitrim and surrounding counties could transfer to the Northern line for Belfast and where an army of Cavan supporters travelled to Dublin for an All-Ireland final. All these services and facilities withdrawn in the interest of progress, material prosperity and the economy. That’s what the ‘Powers that be’ told us and that’s what they tell us still; they decide the paths of progress.

My God! - What a price for what? - For what they call progress? And they tell us that you can’t stop progress, and so it continues; the country post office is one the way out, the small farmer is disappearing from the face of the earth and the ancient domains of the Dalcassions, King Brian Ború, and the kings of Ireland, will eventually become vast uninhabited regions where the small farmer will be as rare as the snipe and the corncrake.

Some of this progress occured years ago and some of it is currently coming to its logical conclusion. How much of it was real progress? Real progress must retain the excellent features of our culture and society as well as the social fabric of our heritage.

You may ask where did all the good features of our social fabric disappear to in the interest of progress? They went down the corridors of time. And the sad aspect is that their wonders were never experienced by our present generation.

Can their wonders ever return? Of course they can. There are two ends to every corridor and they will return someday. That day good men and women will have taken action; order will have been restored and man women and child will be able to walk our streets and roads again without fear of being molested. Family and country pride will return. That day we will be proud once more to live and live for Dear Old Ireland.

Taken from Breffni Blue
April 2004