Miriam Black-Fore

One way or other Miriam Black-Fore owned and lived in the Cottage for 43 years before she sold it in 1978 to Lenny and his wife. She was responsible for the creation of the lawn that runs down to the stone beach and the sea. Before that the Cottage stood on its scrub of rough rock raised up slightly above the pier. There times when with a high tide and a wind coming in from the east the water would be pushed up high enough so that it almost reached the split yellow door.

A low wall was built up from the beach and rocks and stones were crushed and filled in the space behind to form a smooth surface up to the Cottage and it was then filled it with good top soil brought down from the hills. They were able to pack it deep enough on the western boundary to the sea so that a few rough trees could be planted and fix down their roots. Grass was laid out over the soil and to everyone’s surprise it took quickly and formed a thick green apron from the Cottage down to the sea.

There was a wall running against the run of the road and a thick fuchsia hedge was planted so as to allow the lawn some privacy. Once that had grown the only way to get a view of the back of the Cottage was from out over the water.

The work was done by men that Miriam brought over from the family’s big house in Bantry. She oversaw their labours giving directions from the door of the Cottage in a pair of rough blue trousers.

When it was done and the grass had settled she bought a small round metal table and two metal charirs. These were placed on the grass outside the yellow door and she could sit there watching the water with half an eye on the iron gate and the world has it passed slowly on the road.

Before Miriam lived there the Cottage was down in the books as a farm but no-one was quite sure what was grown there or if there any animals apart from a few chickens and a cow in the field opposite. Being so close to the sea and on the back of the pier there was an assumption that there must be some connection with their activities but the books were clear, the place was a farm and only farmers lived there.  Some of the ground in the field opposite was good and maybe there was enough there to grow a crop of potatoes.

There was no heating in the Cottage apart from the open fire but the walls were, and still are, eighteen inches almost two feet thick and they kept the heat in during winter and cooled the place down in the sun. But the place was full of damp and she would take herself away to friends in London for two months at the start of the year to give herself a chance to clear her lungs.

Her friends in London were arty types that she had met and kept in contact with after University. They were artists and poets, writer and dreamers. They in turn would come stay in the summer arriving in a smart car driven up from Cork. If they were bored they would stay for months at a time filling the Cottage with their talk and laughter. Miriam’s cook and housekeeper lived in the Butter House across the road and the food would be driven in from Bantry, cooked and carried across the road to the Cottage no matter the weather.

For an evening they would sometimes walk up to Arundel’s Pub where they would drink pints with the men, the farmers and fishermen, and the talk would go on deep into the night.

But the friends from London would eventually go and Miriam would have the Cottage back to herself and her housekeeper across the road. Over the years the visitors from London declined and Miriam would spend long days sat in her metal chair by the small round table. She would wrap herself in rugs and blankets and quietly watch the sea and the sky. If you had asked her she would say it was better than any church or cathedral. She kept herself still and the air was sepulchral around her.

The silence was empty and then filled again, the layers of grey cloud rubbing at the landscape until all that was left was a white wall of air as if the bleached wall of some ancient church had come down and enveloped the bay.

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