Monday, June 13, 2011


Paralc Poll is a resident of Inisheer and has been farming and building walls to enclose new fields for many years. His work is amazing. The amount of clearing and building he has done in his lifetime seems almost humanly impossible. Here he is standing in front of one of the many walls he built single-handedly. He kindly took us around the south part of the island on Friday to see some of the incredible amount of work he had done and explained to us a bit about the walls of the Aran Islands.

One thing we found unique was the how well and how long the vertical single stone wall can hold up. Its strength comes from the dynamic forces acting along the wall. All the stones are fitted wedged in tight. The wall can only get stronger with any tendency for the stones push down on each other and wedge themselves more.

Vertical joints actually become the strength of the wall. If instead vertical joints are avoided the stones will be susceptible to shearing and sliding outward along the lengths of horizontal joints that are created. This is why it is best to lay upright stones in this type of wall in an alternating pattern of high and low. On the next 'course' the low spots are wedged with high stones that extend past the high stones of the previous course. This way there is always a series of valleys created for each new course of uprights.