Tag Archives: Aran Islands

You are our television

JesseJames Inis Oirr Inisheer Zibaldone Napolenic Look Out TowerLR

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

and on Sunday morning they were all kneeling on the beach

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!”

Dolphin Graphic JesseJames Inisheer Zibaldone

Words: Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage. Image: detail from Inisheer Zibaldone by JesseJames.

I am watching you – are you watching yourself in me?

JesseJames Inis Oirr Inisheer Zibaldone Napolenic Look Out TowerLR

It is a pity indeed to travel and not get this essential sense of landscape values. You do not need a sixth sense for it. It is there if you just close your eyes and breathe softly through your nose; you will hear the whispered message, for all landscapes ask the same question in the same whisper. I am watching you – are you watching yourself in me?

Words: Lawrence Durrell, Spirit Of Place: Letters And Essays On Travel. Image: JesseJames.

for 3 seconds in 1963

A man on An Trá Inis Oírr, who with his wife had been a regular visitor to the island stretching back over 50 years, said “my wife remembers that for 3 seconds in 1963, the whole island turned purple.”

Anton Castle

Image: JesseJames, detail from Zibaldone page.

Thorny Garden of Eden

Not for me dull sodden land

Disturbed by upcroppings

Of white thorny mayflower

With cattle splurging their way home.

But for me a place

With white rocky back glistening

Under the raw red setting sun.

A hump backed stranded island

Amid sparkling sea and shimmering sky.

A mere bone of earth

Keeping itself afloat

While stripping me of unnecessaries.

A keeper of spring gentian and campion

Storm stranded sparrow hawk,

Arctic tern and sun seeking swallow.

Yes, for me this sun faded picture

Of bleached rock, bleached sand and sky

That I can touch and see and feel and know

With the sureness of earthly instinct

That in this thorny garden of Eden

Is all that is life to me.

Catherine Conneely Poem

Poem: Catherine Conneely. Image: JesseJames

A new stock of porter

A new stock of porter was brought in this morning to the little public house underneath my room and I could hear in the intervals of our talk that a number of men had come in to treat some neighbours from the middle island, and singing many songs, some of them in English of the kind I have given, but most of them in Irish. A little later when the party broke downstairs, my old men got nervous about the fairies – they live some distance away – and set off across the sand hills – JM Synge, The Aran Islands (1906).

The Aran Islands are all awash

From Connemara, or the Moher clifftop,

Where the land ends with a sheer drop,

You can see three stepping stones out of Europe.

Anchored like hulls at the dim horizon

Against the winds’ and the waves’s explosion.

That Aran Islands are all awash.

Coastline’s furled in the foam’s white sash.

The clouds melt over them like slush.

And on Galway Bay, between shore and pier,

The ferry plunges to Inis Oírr.

Elizabeth Rivers Stranger in Aran

Words: Seamus Heaney The Evening Land (adapted). Image: Elizabeth Rivers, Stranger in Aran (1946).