SUMMARY / RELATED TOPICS

Corlea Trackway

The Corlea Trackway is an Iron Age trackway, or togher, near the village of Keenagh, south of Longford town, County Longford, in Ireland. It was known locally as the Danes' Road, it was constructed from oak planks in 148–147 BC. The trackway is situated in an area, the site of industrial-scale mechanised peat harvesting by the Bord na Móna, principally to supply the peat-fired power stations of the Electricity Supply Board. While today a flat and open landscape, in the Iron Age it was covered by bog and ponds, surround by dense woodlands of birch, willow and alder while higher ground was covered by oak and ash; the terrain was impassible for much of the year. In 1984, timbers recovered from Corlea were radiocarbon dated to the Iron Age, rather than the Bronze Age as had been expected, an archaeological project was established under the leadership of Professor Barry Raftery to investigate the site before it was destroyed by peat-digging. Excavations to 1991 in Corlea bog revealed 59 toghers in an area of around 125 hectares and further work has raised the total to 108 with a further 76 in the nearby Derryoghil bog.

The majority of these toghers are constructed from woven hurdles laid on heaped brushwood on top of the surface, built to be used by people on foot. Four, including Corlea 1, the Corlea Trackway proper, are corduroy roads, built from split planks laid on top of raised rails and suitable for wheeled traffic; the Corlea Trackway is made from oak planks 3 to 3.5 metres long and around 15 centimetres thick laid on rails around 1.2 metres apart. The road was at least 1 kilometre long. Dendrochronological study suggests that the timber used in construction was felled in late 148 BC or early in 147 BC and the road built then. Raftery estimated that the sleepers alone amount to a 300 large oak trees, or a thousand wagon-loads, with a similar volume of birch for the rails; the Corlea Trackway ended on a small island, from which a second trackway, excavated in 1957 and since radiocarbon dated to 148 BC, again around 1 kilometre long, connected to dry land on the far side of the bog. The construction of the roadway required a great deal of labour, comparable to that used in the construction of ritual monuments such as barrows.

The purpose of the Corlea Trackway is uncertain. For the smaller toghers, O'Sullivan remarks that "there is a growing sense that these were not structures designed to cross the bog, but to get into the bog". Massive structures such as the Corlea Trackway may have served to get into the bog for ritual purposes, rather than to cross it. Whatever its purpose, the roadway was usable for only a few years. Covered by the rising bog and sinking under its own weight, it was covered by the bog within a decade, less, where it remained preserved for two millennia; the Corlea Trackway constructed in a single year, has suggested comparisons with the Irish language tale Tochmarc Étaíne, where King Eochu Airem sets Midir tasks such as planting a forest and building a road across a bog where none had been before at a place called Móin Lámraige. Sweet Track History of roads in Ireland R392 road O'Sullivan, Aidan, "Exploring past people's interaction with wetland environments in Ireland", Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 107: 147–203, doi:10.3318/PRIC.2007.107.147, archived from the original on 2008-11-20, retrieved 2008-06-01 Pryor, Britain BC: Life in Britain and Ireland before the Romans, London: HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-712693-X Raftery, Pagan Celtic Ireland: The Enigma of the Irish Iron Age, London: Thames & Hudson, ISBN 0-500-05072-4 Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre

Józef Zwonarz

Józef Zwonarz was a Polish-Catholic ironworker of Hungarian descent from Lesko and one of many Righteous Gentiles who assisted persecuted Jews in spite of the penalty of death if they were caught doing so. Zwonarz housed a total of four Jewish adults in a cell under his small workshop. On the workshop's right boundary was the town’s Gestapo headquarters. On its left boundary were the Schutzpolizei. Across the road were the Ukrainian police, he spent part of his youth in Budapest. He was a soldier of Austro-Hungarian Army during the World War I. Following regaining independence by Poland in 1918, he joined the Polish army and took part in Polish-Soviet War in 1920, 1939 Defensive War. Between the wars, he worked as a mechanician in Lesko. In 1923, he became footballer of local team Sanovia. After 1939 he was engaged in Polish resistance movement. In July 1942, Zwonarz was approached by a Jewish doctor, Nathan Wallach, whose wife Jafa was acquainted with Zwonarz, about taking their three-and-a-half-year-old daughter under his care.

Zwonarz agreed to do so, found accommodation for the little girl with another non-Jew by the name of Jan Kakol. Soon after their daughter was moved, Dr. Wallach and his wife were transferred to the Zaslaw labour camp, as they were amongst the many Jews being liquidated from the Lesko ghetto. On December 16, 1942, Wallach's wife was amongst 400 women scheduled to be executed in the main square of the labour camp; the women were lined up and most machine-gunned to death. She was not hit and was able to lay motionless and "play dead" until it was safe for her to move, she found her husband and they escaped, from the camp. The following day, the Wallachs again asked Zwonarz for help. Zwonarz, aged 45 at the time, an engineer by profession, father of five children, now resolved to help Dr. Wallach and his wife just as he had helped their daughter. Fearing that his wife and children may accidentally say something about the Wallachs to the surrounding authorities, Zwonarz decided to keep the existence of the Wallachs a secret from his wife and children.

In order to do this, he set up an underground shelter beneath his small workshop, located at the rear of his property. In this "tomb", which measured 5 feet by 3.5 feet and was about 3 feet deep, the four Jews survived on nothing but water, scraps from Zwonarz’s meals, some barley for over two years. Zwonarz went to the trouble of installing an electricity wire, connected to the main city circuit, to run some cooking appliances and a light-bulb in the pit. Noticing all his additional comings and goings, as well as missing food and cotton, Zwonarz's wife, Franciszka Zwonarz, concluded he was having an affair. For Zwonarz, he could not contradict any of what his wife had said for fear of incriminating himself, his family and the Jews he was sheltering, it was only in 1944, when the advancing Russian Army drew nearer to Lesko and he had to move the Jews into the cellar beneath his house after they were nearly killed in the pit by Russian shelling, that he was forced to tell his wife the truth.

They stayed in the cellar for six weeks. After the liberation of Lesko, when the Jews had regained enough strength to leave, they left and excused themselves for not being able to pay him for his trouble and expenses. Zwonarz responded by giving them his last items of worth, a wristwatch and a $10 bill, saying: "Take this, it's all I have. You'll need it to start a new life." In 1967, Zwonarz and his wife Franciszka Zwonarz were honoured with the medal Righteous Among the Nations. In 2006, Franciszka and Józef Zwonarz were included in survivor Jafa Wallach memoirs Bitter Freedom. Memoirs of a Holocaust Survivor. Bitter Freedom: Memoirs of a Holocaust Survivor The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.