Author(s): BERNEN ROBERT
Ten miles north of Donegal Town, in the extreme north-west of Ireland, runs a range of low rounded hills known as the Blue Stacks. Their name is fitting, for from a distance they always appear a deep, purple blue, even on the clearest days. Around those hills live a small group of farmers whose lives continue to be rooted in the 18th century pattern, or earlier.
Robert Bernen and his wife spent their early lives in America and only moved to Ireland in 1970. Raising sheep on a Donegal hillside and living in the manner of their neighbours, they discovered that they had chosen a region in which much of the richness and variety of pre-modern existence still remained. While coping with the difficulties of restoring a derelict hill farm they yet found time to observe with sympathy and humour the vanishing mode of life around them. These attractive stories and sketches record some of the simple but lastingly memorable moments of that experience.
The author spent part of his life studying those ancient languages that once seemed to men to be the mainstay of Western civilization: Hebrew, Greek and Latin. In them he sought to find not only literary values, but an experience of the human past as well. Six years spent among the illiterate and semi-literate hill farmers of the Blue Stacks provided, often unforeseen, a living completion of those studies. There he discovered many of the deepest interests and values of ancient men living on unnoticed. Some of those qualities are embodied in these pages: the Greek awe of nature and its wonders, the Roman fascination with men and their ordinary lives, the Hebrew commitment to life.