National Geographic : 1961 Mar
I marveled at the few yards of potatoes growing at steep angles amid loose stone walls that ramble up and down the hills. In the shops of Connemara all the notices were in Gaelic, and I heard the children speaking Gaelic on their way from school. When I stopped to ask them something, they were too shy to reply or they ran away like deer. And what beautiful children have been born in this harsh land! I admired their clear eyes, their rosy faces, their sturdy legs, their dirty little bare feet. But where were the bare-legged colleens in their red petti coats whom I remember in Connemara, seated sideways on the backs of donkeys? They are no longer there. The red pet ticoat, which once gave such a marvelous touch of color to this gray country, has all but gone; I saw only one, drying on a stone wall. I was shocked by the many deserted and roofless crofts. But the donkey with its panniers of turf is still a feature of the land, as is the woman, young or old, bent beneath a burden of peat (page 316). Through this beautiful but lonely countryside I traveled to a remarkable hotel, Ashford Castle at Cong. Years ago it was one of the country homes of the famous Guinness family of brewers. The castle is a splendid example of pre-income-tax "millionaire's Gothic." (Continued on page 326) 322 Shark hunters of Achill Island net a 4-ton, 25-foot basking shark, so named for its habit of basking at the surface. Each spring Achill fishermen capture hundreds of these sharks for the com mercial oil yielded by their livers. One crewman stands ready to gaff the fish with a home made spear. The three part ners work cautiously, for one blow from the thrashing tail could wreck their skiff. Quarry in tow, the men row home in their curragh-a keelless craft, ribbed in wood, covered with tarred canvas, and propelled by bladeless oars. The frail boat weighs about a thirtieth of the shark, which may produce a thou sand pounds of oil.