Finding an abandoned farmhouse ripe with photographic opportunity isn't something that happens every day, but after an extensive roam around a Wexford village in the south east of Ireland, that's exactly what happened.
I'd spotted the building at the beginning of the week and used it as a target for my exploratory ramble a few days later. On arrival at the location, a heavily chained gate impeded my access so I scouted around and found a neighbour who, after a chat to introduce myself and declare my intentions, advised that he couldn't see any problems with me making my way inside. This was the authority I was looking for!
So I made my way back down the road and climbed over the gate into the yard, flanked with an open pig-shed on one side and a locked barn on the other. The house, however, was not secure, and I pushed the rusty-hinged door open and made my way inside.
I would not be surprised if I was the first person to enter than house in 20 years. Everything was covered in a layer of dust, dirt, cobwebs and bird droppings.
The ground floor consisted of two main rooms - a living area and a kitchen. Both had large fireplaces, low ceilings and odd pieces of furniture. Both rooms had been used as a store for general rubbish, with bicycles, tractor parts and farming paraphernalia littering the spaces.
I made my way up the narrow wooden staircase, easing pressure onto each step as I went in case the treads gave way, but it was sound enough. Upstairs, the ceilings had fallen in and the space opened up to the roof, with holes in the tiling letting in light and the swallows which flew around noisily above my head, clearly disgusted at the intrusion.
There was an equal amount of discarded rubbish but under an even thicker blanket of grime than downstairs - probably because of the resident birds. As I was about to leave, I spotted what looked like a book on the windowsill, camouflaged under a layer of dusty cobwebs. It became apparent that these were in fact bibles, two of them, laying open in front of the dirty windows.
It was like someone had once been sitting there in front of the window reading the books in the light, left them there to come back to but never returned. One was open on the cover page, the other open on Numbers 25. Considering the state of the building, the variety of personal belongings that had been left behind, and the suspended animation generated by the part-read bible on the windowsill, it seems eerie that the most readable passage on that page was verse 9:
'And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand'.