"Shadowlands" is a road-trip across post celtic- tiger Ireland’s graveyards of broken dreams. The photographs are a contemplation on life’s fragile hopes and the ephemeral nature of things.
In his 2005 Memoir, John Mc Gahern wrote of his native Leitrim "The very poorness of the soil saved these fields when old hedges and great trees were being leveled throughout Europe for factory farming and, amazingly, amid unrelenting change, these felds have hardly changed at all since I ran and played and worked in them as a boy"
As I drove past Belmayne, in North County Dublin, I found myself compelled to make a visual record of an unfinished housing estate. For me, these half built houses of lost hopes and broken dreams were the most poignant visual reminder of post -Celtic tiger Ireland.
After Belmayne, I set out to gather further visual evidence of the impact that Ireland’s building boom had on the rural landscape.
The frst road trip out of Dublin took me to Leitrim, and as I drove across the Shannon bridge at Roosky on an unusually cold day in late March 2010, I could already see evidence of what had happened to John McGahern’s fields. Leveled, they were, and then poured with concrete dreams of idyllic semi-detached lifestyles.
In Legga for instance, gorse bushes reclaimed front gardens, places intended for manicured lawns and daffodils. In the tiny village of Keshkerrigan outside Drumshanbo, the dream on the sign erected outside promised that residents could be “boating from your backyard”, yet all I found there by the waters' edge was one sinking wooden boat.
My travels had taken me to estates and half built mansions on the byroads of Roscommon, Leitrim and Longford, the counties whose riverbanks shape the waters of the Shannon-Erne. But as I went further, I discovered that is not just the
story of three reckless tax haven counties in the north midlands. In “Coill na Giuise” or Pine Wood in Gorey, Co. Wexford, all that is left are empty shells, broken glass and rusting scaffolding, a hope abandoned.
On the outskirts of Bundoran in Donegal, two grey shells of houses stood as edifices, imposing on a desolate spring sunset. Inside another half built mansion, I felt the sadness of the builders work trousers in an unfinished living room and the unopened post on the floor by the letterbox.
“And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall. And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand, Far, far away, thy children leave the land.”
The Irish poet Oliver Goldsmith wrote his epic poem “The Deserted Village” in 1770 about an Irish village once teeming with life and the vulnerability of that rural life to power and money. Yet, these words could have been written today. Two hundred and thirty years on, things have changed but they remain the same.
Kim Haughton is an award winning photographer and lecturer in documentary Photography. A native of Dublin, Ireland, She has documented issues in over twenty countries throughout her career so far, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Her work has appeared in publications worldwide such as the Guardian, Boston Globe, Vanity Fair, FT, Time and Newsweek. Recently, she has been experimenting with documentary flm making, earning her an award for her frst short, “The Stolen Generation”. She is a postgraduate student in Documentary photography at the University of the Arts in London and is currently represented by Polaris Images.