YOUGHAL, IRELAND – At our ranch in Argentina, we explore on horseback. Here in Ireland, we explore on foot. And what we explored this weekend was the collapse of civilization.

The Suez Canal is unstuck this morning. So trade can return to normal.

The exchange of goods and services – along with increasing specialization and sophistication – is what makes a modern economy possible.

But sometimes, trade goes into reverse… and a “dark age” results.

When? Why? How?

Let us attack the subject this week in our usual way – that is, by taking a rambling, circuitous route.

Then, we will sneak up from behind and catch it unawares.

White Supremacist Math

We begin by tossing out a bread crumb.

A dear reader recently wrote to tell us that even arithmetic has become a subject for “woke” complainers. And now, WND News has the latest:

In New York City, math education Professor Laurie Rubel claims the whole notion that “2+2=4” is one that “reeks of white supremacist patriarchy.” How is that remotely possible? As the Brooklyn College prof explained in a tweet:

“The idea that math (or data) is culturally neutral or in any way objective is a MYTH. … Along with the ‘Of course math is neutral because 2+2=4’ trope are the related (and creepy) ‘Math is pure’ and ‘Protect math.’ Reeks of white supremacist patriarchy.”

Perhaps it is a joke?

But let’s come back to that tomorrow…

Irish Originarios

We have been in Ireland now for a month.

It was cold and rainy when we arrived. It is still cold and rainy. This weekend was especially windy and wet, with the west wind blowing a fine rain almost horizontally… punctuated by a few snowflakes.

But occasionally, the sun came out, for a few minutes, before clouds came over again.

Ireland is a beautiful place, but the opposite of our ranch in Argentina in many ways.

Here, there is water – plenty of it. And grass. There are no brutal droughts. No cattle lying dead on the ground. No bitter cold. No dust storms.

The government, too, appears to be stable… along with the local currency – the euro. The economy is orderly. There are no originarios… and no land grabs.

Of course, Ireland had its own originarios – organized as the Irish Republican Army (IRA) – whose goals were similar to those of the “indigenous peoples” of the Andes.

Irish Catholics felt the country had been stolen from them by the English. In the early 20th century, they aimed to get it back – by forcing the English Protestants out.

To this end, they burnt many of the “big houses” of the Anglo-Irish gentry. And made life uncomfortable for others.

New Ireland

But now, the old wounds have largely healed. The Irish have their own country – the Republic – which is more prosperous than British-controlled Northern Ireland.

The old privileges have been abolished. In certain areas, including one near our house, the old Irish Gaelic is still spoken. In these “gaeltacht” areas, you have to agree to learn the language if you move in.

We made an attempt to learn “Irish” when we were last here. We’d still like to speak the language, but life may not be long enough to learn it.

The Irish “originarios” got much of what they wanted. And today, Ireland seems very safe and peaceful, a European country… but with deep Celtic roots and grievances that still stir people up from time to time.

The Anglo-Irish – descendants of the conquerors – are still here. But some are moving away.

“There’s nothing left for us here,” says one of our acquaintances.

But most – along with thousands of new immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East… and a smattering of Americans who have come back to their homeland – are merely part of the new Ireland.

The Irish Project

We bought this property because we’d always wanted to live in Ireland. And now, one of our sons lives in Dublin. He and his wife are expecting a baby. We are here, only a couple hours away, waiting to be called to action. “Any day now,” says our daughter-in-law.

Our property was attractive because it had an old house that could be restored and modernized, in a charming, rural setting.

The numerous stone walls… many of them tumbled down… would provide us with plenty to do on the weekends.

And an old lodge, at the abandoned entrance to the property, could be made into a fine office – a project that is now underway.

Into the Woods

Between the lodge and the house was a deep, forested area, flanked by open pastures rented to a local dairy farmer. We had no idea what was in the woods.

From the lodge itself, an overgrown path led up the hill. But after a hundred meters or so, the underbrush was so thick, we couldn’t continue.

Peter Sell and Gina Murrell, in their opus Flora of Great Britain and Ireland, list hundreds of brambles, from the curved-tooth bramble (R. curvidens) to retrorse-toothed bramble (R. dasyphyllus).

Every one of them must have found a home on this abandoned lane.

Briars… wild blackberries… and nettles fill the open spaces. Moss-covered laurels, oak, ash, “maple-sycamores,” and holly trees – many of them so overgrown with vines, that it was hard to tell what they are – line both sides.


Iron rail embedded in tree

There are four different varieties of Laurus Nobilis. We don’t know which one we have here. But it is very hardy and invasive.

The plant once covered much of the Mediterranean Basin. But either because the area dried out… or humans cut down the laurels… the species retreated to cooler, moister climates.

Ireland – along with Scotland – seems like the perfect place for it, as well as rhododendrons and azaleas.

The path led to an ancient stone bridge, crossing a small stream… And then, the path disappeared altogether, lost in a maze of brambles, bushes, and laurels.


Old stone bridge

Signs of Life

Stumbling through the thicket, we found further signs of antique life.

Up from the bridge, a stone wall curved around the side of the hill. It was a retaining wall, holding the dirt against the hillside to form what must have been a roadway.

And it’s on the map. Back in the 19th century, Britain – which ruled Ireland at the time – sent forth teams of surveyors to map the entire country.

The 1837 Ordnance Survey map is still available. It shows a different country.

The basic layout of the property – the main house… two cottages… stone walls… stout oaks… the barn and farmyard complex – is the same. There is a walled garden, too – whose walls are still mostly intact.

But then, it was much more orderly and developed than it is now. Today, you can barely find many of the features so clearly marked on the map. The walls are overgrown. The cottage roofs have caved in. The roadways – which must have been trod for centuries – have disappeared.

Where is the carefully structured, apparently well-maintained, farm from 1837? We see only traces of it.

But surely, it was more elegant… and more refined.

Back then, people must have thought it was permanent – those sturdy stone walls… the stone pillars, with their gates of oak and iron… cottages… stables… piggeries… an ice house. Roads laid out, firm and true.

And then, local society must have seemed well organized, too. The Anglo-Irish owners in their country mansions, with their farm managers and gamekeepers… the clergy in their churches and glebes… the peasants in their cabins…

People must have thought that that was the way it ought to be… and the way it always would be.

But it is no more.

What happened to it?


Where civilization ends

Stay tuned…




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