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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Silent Valley, Open House Belfast, text by Samantha McGahon

Writing and image by Samantha McGahon. 
Samantha attended the Silent Valley tour which ran as part of our Open House Festival 2016 and wrote this beautiful reflective text about her experience.





As I drive along the motorway I have the urge to follow a truck and its cargo to its final destination, along behind, along the motorway.
Perhaps its end is only the next turn off the motorway up the ramp to the next building site or construction site. the junctions one after the other disappear  in the rear view mirror until reaching a ship yard container park to be loaded, piled, winched, levered from solid ground to flowing tides of commerce. Destinations logged, shipments dispatched.
I cannot follow these goods beyond my planned trips but can I follow my own shipment of bricks from the kiln. From where? Ireland, Turkey, India? In India where women in bare feet bend moulding clay, stamping logos into wet clay in the dry season while nicely dressed young men coach them through rehearsed interviews.
Taking a peak into red hot furnaces, temperatures decided which colour the bricks out from grey to red.
"Where are the bricks made?" Asks the lady as we stand in the subtearreranan tunnel of the overflow pipe of The Silent Valley Dam
"I don't know you'll have to ask Phil he should know." 
As we stand waiting to climb down the ladder to the funnel, I stand at the back at the group a young couple, the father in wheelchair carries his young daughter on his lap. Going up the hill they both help him, or stop him from falling back. At the top of the hill mother and daughter go to explore some stairs while he waits at the top.
We climb down the ladder past the abandoned jackdaw nest, through the tunnel lit by the torch of guide/engineer/headof department listening for he's desire for the water to 'dirtier' as the natural water is too clean to treat.
I find Phil
"Where is the brick made?
"In Northern Ireland I think,"
Is that another history?

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