'Jack Nestor' by James Fennell
from The Vanishing Ireland Project
When the British government conducted its first Ordnance Survey of Ireland in the late 1830s, one of the jobs their surveyors had to consider was what to name the miscellaneous landmarks across the country. When confronted by a one arch stone bridge over MacDuagh's River in the Co. Clare townland of Maghera, one such surveyor scribbled the name "Nestor's Bridge" on his map. It is not known where the Nestor family originated but this bridge alone suggests that they have been making an impact on the Clare landscape at least since early Victorian times.
Fast forward to the 21st century and Jack Nestor is slaloming a Caterpillar between traffic cones and piles of rubble on a road outside the village of Kilfenora. He makes for quite a sight twixt the big Russian hat and his friendly spectacles. Jack is one of the Clare County Council workers assigned to the widening of this particular road which serves as one of the principal gateways into the sumptuous 'otherworld' countryside that is the Burren.
Jack's Two Fingered Salute
Jack's loyal service to the Council has not gone unnoticed. In 2005 they gave him a brand new house. But Jack didn't enjoy his brand new house. "I couldn't settle down at all in it", he says, shaking his head. He preferred to live in the 100-year-old stone cottage above Kilfenora where he and his brother grew up in the 1950s. And that is where he lives today. To the rear of this ancestral home is a field where Jack keeps his pride and joy, a small herd of Belgian Blue heifers. Every morning and evening Jack goes out to check they are all still walking straight. And once a year he brings them to the mart and sells them to the highest bidder. Some of his earnings are likely to find their way into Vaughan's of Kilfenora to which fine premises Jack is an occasional visitor.