Ben helps with the hollowing out again today. We start with our morning ritual of binding sore, blistered fingers, and tightly wrapping Duct tape around our wrists. After a few sips of tepid coffee we don fingerless rigger gloves and, with some trepidation, start hacking. After about twenty minutes the hands get numb to the cramps and pain.
It is very clear just how resilient Iron Age folk were. I work with my hands each and every day, however working at this pace, with just these basic tools, is extremely punishing. It must have eventually taken its toll on the muscle and joints of our Pre-History counterparts.
Along with welcome interest from those working at Meitheal Mara, each day we have visits from UCC postgrads and people intrigued by our project. During the morning Niall Gregory drops by to see how our Pallasboy is shaping up. From research he has been involved in he is certain that our vessel was originally a craft built to transport materials by river. He explains that the form of the Pallasboy, and thickness of its sides and base, allow it to be buoyant while carrying weight. It is decided that this is something we should put to the test when finished. Niall’s detailed knowledge of ancient craft is fascinating, and helpful.
Later that day Caitriona arrives, and for the first time the Pallasboy project team are assembled together. It’s time for a group photo. Caitriona is fascinated by the ever growing pile of wood chips covering our corner of the boat yard. She is also intrigued by the striking colour change that takes place as we carve the Alder timber. When first exposed with the axe the wood is a soft creamy white, over a few hours this changes dramatically to a brick like orange. Remove the bark of the tree and you reveal a rich, thick, blood like sap. Caitriona explains to me the Alder’s place in ancient folklore. The appearance of the tree to bleed when cut led Alder to naturally have a strong association with death, and great spiritual significance.
At the end of each day we look over the tools for signs of wear and tear. Somewhat surprisingly, after such punishing treatment, the tools are keeping a keen edge, only requiring a little attention with a polishing compound.
It felt great to have Caitriona, Brian, Ben and I together at Meitheal Mara. And our vessel was really starting to take shape. The only dark cloud was the knowlage that I only had two days left in Cork, and still lots of work to do.