Claggarnaugh, County Mayo – Ireland, 1880

Martin Boggan stands at the entrance of his cottage. The wooden door at the entrance to his cottage is twisted off the hinge. He looks out from the broken threshold at the night sky above the farm fields. The Milky Way glows in the darkness in a heavenly shower of starlight suspended across the universe in a cloud with a rosy hue. From his doorway he can see beyond the fields to the green tufts of grass on hillocks in the bog.

My grandfather was an Irishman, born outside the Irish state at the time when colonization brought conflict to the townland in County Mayo called ‘Claggarnagh East.’ Here is a map of the townland within the area of the cottage where my great grandfather Martin Boggan was born in 1866. Despite being born outside the Irish state, according to the 1935 Citizenship Act, my grandfather was an Irishman. My father’s birth was not registered in the Irish foreign birth registry prior to my birth. Consequently, the failure to register in the foreign birth registry means that all future generations can no longer claim Irish citizenship. Still, I want to write, at least in part, from an aspect of this cultural heritage. I want to explore what it is to look from the perspective of this part of my cultural heritage to consider current local social problems in my locality and what might be done to resolve issues based on those principles and values. This is an experiment and a work in progress.

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