There is hardly an hour I am with them that I do not feel the shock of some inconceivable idea, and then again the shock of some vague emotion that is familiar to them and to me. On some days I feel this island as a perfect home and resting place; on other days I feel that I am a waif among the people. I can feel more with them than they can feel with me, and while I wander among them, they like me sometimes, and laugh at me sometimes, yet never know what I am doing – J M Synge, The Aran Islands, 1907.
To look back through it along the headlands that stand as if fixed for all eternity, one behind another to the limits of vision, is to look into the jaws of time – Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage.
A view from the JesseJames Seat, located on a beach on Inis Oírr where the artists found inspiration. It is said that this was JesseJames’s favourite seat on Inis Oírr. Situated on Trá Caorach and overlooking An Sunda Ó Dheas, the sound between Inis Oírr and the cliffs of Moher.
Take it from me, a bystander, that when you are under the spell of your own time you are as interesting to watch as were those before; it is always the same plot: Soul – Soul. It was your humanity in response that adds life to it and makes tending it so worthwhile. You are our television – Dennis Severs 1948 – 1999
The Zibaldone is a casual art form which originated in 14th century Venice where merchants used notebooks as part of their day to day business. Unlike their upper-class counterparts, who mostly stuck to Latin, these merchants wrote in the local Italian dialect. They were also more likely to bring together all kinds of work and play into one small, portable book. Alongside their workaday notes they drew boats and people and jotted down stories and other items of personal interest.
I described how the dolphins had danced on an evening of silken calm, leaping clear of the water in graceful arcs that crossed in pairs; as I had sat in a little field above the bay to watch, their plunges had been the only sound in the world. He listened to me expressionlessly, then turned his eyes to the dingy window and the dingy sky beyond. “That’s right” he said, and on Sunday morning they were all kneeling on the beach!”
Words: Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage. Image: detail from Inisheer Zibaldone by JesseJames.