|Our Trip to Gortaghragan Clachan
We went to Gortaghragan Clachan on Friday 26th May. We walked to it from school because it wasn’t far so it didn’t take much time from the school.
We had seen a map of the clachan at school so we knew what the layout was like: there was a house beside the river at the bottom, all the other houses were all clustered together up at the top, there was a grassy “commons” which didn’t belong to anyone but everyone had access to, there were another couple of sheds up beside the house at the very top.
To get into the clachan we had to go across a stone bridge. We learned that in the olden days you would just have had to use stepping stones to get across the river. The first house was right beside the river and we stopped for a minute to hear about it. The people who lived there were called McDonnell and they were stonemasons. That meant they worked with stone and they probably built all the old houses around here. The type of stone they worked with was called Schist. Schist is a type of stone that was formed when a giant glacier formed the valley during the ice age.
The next house up belonged to the Mc Killops. I thought it was bigger than the other house that we had seen. The Mc Killops were farmers and we later discovered a plough near their house. We were told that if someone in the community needed to plough their fields or something else that took a long time, their neighbours would group together to get it done. A rich farmer might lend out his horse in exchange for a days work on his farm.
Further up the group of houses we found an outside toilet. They had to outside because they had no running water. Right beside it was a walled garden. We knew it was for growing vegetables but we couldn’t work out why it had a wall. We thought it might be for keeping out animals like sheep. They had to be kept out because they would have eaten the vegetables. Everybody grew vegetables back in those days, if they had a piece of land because there was very little food.
There were other houses there but I didn’t get a lot of information about them and I didn’t think they were as interesting. Although I didn’t get to study them for very long I learned who lived in them. The people were called Mc Kay (there were two Mc Kay’s), Mc Donnell and Mc Killop. I really enjoyed our trip and I would like to do it again. I think that studying clachans is good because you get an idea of what life was like years ago.
Paul & Eoin