AT THE END OF THE SIDE ROAD, JUST NORTH OF THE TOWN OF BAL- lyhaunis in County Mayo, Ireland, there is a trim, neatly painted white cottage with a corrugated iron roof, flower boxes and pots in front, and a dazzling flower garden behind. The house is clean, with a well-swept barn. A few more houses cluster just a short distance away. In the distance one can see a river and some swamp land.
The little hamlet is called Ballendrehid-the house by the bridge. Most of the land was once a shallow lake and was reclaimed at some unspecified time in the past for a new draining system-one suspects in the late 1700s or early 1800s, when the English knew an exuberant burst of hydraulic enthusiasm and built canals and draining systems which changed (mostly for the better) the topography of both England and Ireland. (Not far from Ballyhaunis is the town of Congfamous for its Ashford Castle Hotel-where the British built a canal between Lough Corribe and Lough Mask to extend deep into the heart of Mayo a navigable waterway. The construction of the canal provided desperately needed income for many Mayo peasants during the time of the Great Famine. Unfortunately, as one of the guidebooks puts it, limestone rock, out of which the canal was hollowed, is too porous to hold water. Even at times of flood, the waters of Lough