The Crone does not tire of Cape Cod. This may be because it bears an uncanny resemblance to the land of her birth–another tiny stretch of land,bravely facing the Atlantic ocean. It appears that this part of New England has more in common with Northern Ireland than just waves, sand dunes and bracing breezes: both bore witness to breakthroughs from radio pioneer Marconi, a hundred years ago.
Blarney vacations in the 1960s were spent in Ballycastle Co.Antrim, a seaside town on the North Atlantic coast.
Thanks to Malcolm for the photo
From there, in 1898, Marconi transmitted radio waves to Rathlin Island, 6 miles across the water. The Crone’s father, being a radio ham, is a bit of a Guglielmo groupie and so the entire Crone connection were often obliged to take a walk to worship at the site of the Marconi marvel on summer evenings in July.Picture thanks to Michael Clarke
The Crone does not remember much about the site, and certainly could not explain exactly how Marconi worked his magic, but she does remember skipping home with her mother, sister and brother, eating up the tarmac as they sang:
Mary Ann Magee
At half past three
She locked her door
And she turned her key
(this was sung while dancing along in a couple, hands crossed and held as in country dancing, then, on the last line, the taller of the two would swing the smaller in a birlie Try it–it certainly speeds the path home)
Now, 40 years later the Crone finds herself at another Marconi site. Back in 1903 wireless waves were transmitted 3000 miles across the Atlantic from Wellfleet to England, taking a message in morse from Teddy Roosevelt to the old King.
You can read about the Ballycastle experiment here and the American one here and pause to thank the man who made blogging and texting and all other things wireless possible- a sort of Italian, 19th century Steve Jobs.