This weekend, I visited the WW1 Trench Exhibition in the Cavan County Museum and was so impressed! What a brilliant idea! Even bathed in Cavan sunshine, and pristine in appearance, it gives an idea of the horrors of trench life. The trenches were dug during the war, and had to be shored up with timber and corrugated iron or ‘wriggle tin’ (I love that description). Not only did men have to live in these appalling conditions, they had to build them opposite the enemy lines. There are sand bags, firing steps, dug outs, command posts. Did you know there were 25,000 miles of trenches dug by the end of the war? The information panels are excellent. There are not too many. They are short. They are interesting. The depiction of No Man’s Land is very good. The exhibition is sobering, and thought provoking without being sensational. Hats off to Cavan County Council and Peace III.
The trench and commemoration of WW1 is a timely reminder given what is happening in the world today. Social media gives us greater access to information, but, in so doing it renders me more horrified and provokes feelings of powerlessness. Today I read on Facebook that ISIS is cutting off the heads of young children. Two weeks ago I read of bodies falling from the sky when the plane was shot down. Last week I read about slaughter of Palestinians. Before that it was children kidnapped and murdered in Nigeria. Now we also have Ebola. The experience we humans inflict on each other seems endless, probably as relentless as the life those men in the trenches faced. We say never again…but…it is amazing how night follows day.
So, I am glad that on Friday I had a good day. I visited a Taste of Cavan. It was packed and full of sumptuous local produce and well supported by the businesses and traders of Cavan. There was a real buzz about the place. There were designer cakes, syrups, beef, cheese, oils, chicken, bread, beers, wines, vegetables, relishes, mustards, ice cream and I got a taste of everything, except of course the array of wonderful knitting, beautiful crochet and make up that is all produced locally. There was lots of jousting, inside and outside the foodhall as WW1 exhibitions and other activities were demonstrated by men in uniform, on horses and other such fayre experiences. It was good to partake of something which made me feel proud to be part of mankind.
I topped off my war and fudge weekend by going to see Shell-Shock by Philip Doherty in the Town Hall. I liked the end message: we all face our own trenches, war or no war, but felt slightly assaulted by the mix of pathos with high speed action and humour. It was about a Cavan boy (a nerd) who is bullied by a controlling mother, two stereo typical ‘knackers’, the local ‘John Boy’, and the village gossips. He discovers his great grandfather was a WW1 Hero and he manipulates this knowledge to justify revenge laden retribution. It didn’t quite work for me, though as usual Philip was on form with his humorous depiction of rural life. The play was very well directed and the acting was excellent. It’s great to have Philip and Gonzo in town.
Well done, Cavan.