Gentle reader, I have undertaken several journeys of moment in the past few years: to the Bar, to the Altar, down the pleasant waters of the River Lee and along the Railways of Cork. The last proved just too ambitious for me in the midst of the hurly-burly of the first two. However, by some popular demand, I'm back on the rails again at last and looking forward (dare I even mention it?) to exploring the passage of the River Blackwater at some not too distant date.
Let me remind you, gentle reader, of my fundamental theory. As I have said before, it is my own but, as with so many of the best ideas, not mine alone or even first. It is found throughout the writings of Hilaire Belloc. There is something about a river that delineates a landscape and forms the people and their history. Follow the river and you will find the people and their history and what formed them both.
In his The Historic Thames Belloc says "Upon all these accounts a river, during the natural centuries which precede and follow the epochs of high civilisation, is as much more important than the road or the path as, let us say, a railway to-day is more important than a turnpike." He also addresses the significance of rivers to human civilization in The Path to Rome and Warfare in England, particularly the first chapter on strategic topography.
Let us return to the Railways. At the outset of this series, I suggested that Railways, by respecting the topography and maintaining, albeit with increasing alacrity and greater mobility, traditional societies, reflected and supported the traditional life of old Cork in a way that Motorways and National Road Networks just don't.
In the second part of this series, I looked at the nexus of the network - a greater network that you find today even in Dublin - the beautiful City of Cork. In the third part, I moved out of the City to the South West and in the fourth part I passed Innishannon along the Bandon line. You can see the stately pace of history in this Railway journey. The doors close, the whistle sounds, the green flag waves and we're off again...
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