10 May 2008
The Map of Connections is a map of unofficial Border crossings. Perhaps the most picturesque I have discovered so far are these substantial stepping stones crossing the Blackwater river. (Location: Ele 32m IH 71092 ITH 47266, Irish Grid) For a section the Blackwater is used as the Border between Tyrone and Monaghan, therefore the Border between northern and southern Ireland. There was no one around to ask about how and when these boulders were placed. It could have been twenty years ago, it was possibly two hundred.
The stepping stones are mere metres from Burn’s Bridge. Why did the locals go to the considerable effort of positioning the boulders with a bridge so near? As mentioned, it is possible the stones predate it. However, compare the worn stones of the arch to the left in the photograph and the smooth new stones of the right arch. I suspect this bridge was blown-up during the Troubles and only rebuilt recently. While this mode of connection was denied to them the locals may have taken things into their own hands. They built their own connection. Now I am happy to map it.