Born in 1916, his life encompassed modern history and he had a strong awareness of local history. “That lane at the bottom of the field at the back of the house used to be the main road to Dublin. That was before the new road through Rushall was built.
The lane was not even a public road, more a farm track. It was hard to imagine that it had once been the primary route from Dublin to Limerick. Trying to visualise a horse drawn coach, passing through the rural countryside, on its way up to the capital was difficult. Who would have thought that the great men of the times might once have passed the way of these muddy ruts?
Contemplating the track, there was a sense that, like closed down railways, there might be a sense of poignancy as one recalled the days of their activity.
Even the road that had replaced the track had lost its significance, the N7 road through the county had ceased to exist when the motorway had opened. The road that remained had been downgraded, reassigned a number as no more than a regional road. There was a strangeness in its emptiness, the wide tract of tarmac that might be entirely devoid of traffic. It is hard to believe that it will be maintained as it was in its days as a national route. Presumably, a reduced maintenance programme will mean that nature will encroach upon the wide margins of the road, that it will gradually narrow, that in a generation people will think it unlikely that this was once one of the nation’s arteries. Perhaps people will recall with nostalgia the times when trucks thundered through the green fields.
Perhaps in Co Laois, there are still N7 road signs, still remnants of the road’s former days.
It was a signpost from times past in the Somerset town of Wiveliscombe that recalled that the road that ran through its narrow streets was once a route of significance. The fingers of the signpost still say, “A361.” Once the main road to North Devon had passed through the town.
Perhaps it is in passing acknowledgment of the former significance of the road that signs for the Wiveliscombe road are prominent, perhaps those who know the route still use it to avoid the congestion of the current A361.
Perhaps there is a touch of sadness in that once tens of thousands of holidaymakers travelled through this town and, now, few would know where it was.