Saturday, October 4, 2008

Déjà Vu in Tacumshin, County Wexford

Yesterday, I was trying to find the tiny hamlet of Tacumshin, in County Wexford, to photograph the old windmill there. It is the oldest surviving windmill in Ireland, and only one of two still intact. Built in 1846, the thatched windmill was used until 1936 and later renovated, in the 1950's, by the Office of Public Works, who keep it in good repair.

My GPS (or Sat. Nav., christened by a friend of mine as "Monica", for reasons best known to himself) took me from Wexford Town to Tacumshin village, with no problems. But once there, I had trouble finding the Windmill itself, because it is slightly hidden from the road, in a field behind the car park of the Millhouse Pub, and I drove past it at least three times. But, eventually, I drove through the car park (unfortunately the pub was shut - otherwise I would have borrowed a key to look inside the windmill) onto a graveled area, and walked up a grassy bank, to the field where the windmill stands.

Something strange struck me, immediately. The Position of the windmill itself, standing alongside a large tree looked extremely familiar. I am certain that I have never been there before - in fact I'm sure it was my first time ever in County Wexford - but there was something about it that made me think it wasn't the first time I had witnessed that scene. Of course, there are lots of postcards of the famous structure, and so I could have easily remembered one of them, and made myself think that I had seen it in real life (that would be the psychological way of explaining it - and I have a Masters degree in the subject!) But, there was also something odd about the whole place, just driving into the area at the back of the car park had a familiar feel about it, too.

There were two men (presumably from the OPW) high up on a hoist, working on the sails when I got there, and my heart sank, thinking that they would be there for the day, or that the hoist contraption was a semi-permanent fixture.

I strode over to the windmill and shouted up to them, in a slow, deliberate voice, that must have made me sound like Dr Quatermass adressing the aliens in the crater: "Hello...I have come from Limerick...I need to photograph this windmill...will you be here long..." all I needed to add was "take me to your leader" for the full "Quatermass" effect! One of the engineers looked down, held up his hand - showing me all four fingers and a thumb (making the figure 5, and proving at the same time that he wasn't an alien being) and, in a perfectly normal speaking voice said "we'll be gone in five minutes". "Oh", I said, still half-shouting, "thanks, I'll wait".

I took some shots of them working, but missed a really good one of them, back on the ground, pulling the sails back into position - as I had wandered off to get my tripod. Let that be a lesson to you, never leave the scene while still there might be something of interest to snap!

I spent at least 15 minutes longer at the windmill than I had planned. There was something very captivating about it, and I wanted to make sure I got enough good shots. Maybe too, it was because of that Déjà Vu feeling. It was made stronger, I suppose by finding out, only in the last few months that my father's grandfather was from County Wexford. Perhaps I was just feeling at home.

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