Tag Archives: JesseJames

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.

if we had a king to rule over us

“It seems to me,” said the Cuckoo, “that things have been going badly with us for some time, and that all would be remedied if we had a king to rule over us. I suggest that we choose a king today.”

Oh, how the birds chirped, and chattered, and peeped at that. The Cuckoo had imagined that they would choose which bird should be king and had in mind one of their own sons. But, each bird was sure that they had royal blood in their veins, and they all began to argue and quarrel about it.

At that time a Rooster and a Hen strutted by and were greatly excited at hearing the commotion. All the birds were talking and arguing.

“Wat? Wat?” clucked the Hen.

“I will go and see,” said the Rooster. He rushed into the midst of the tea party to see what all the hubbub was about. When he found out, he had a plan to offer. He was often called upon to settle disputes among the Hens, so he was always willing give his opinion.

“Have a test! Have a test!” said the Rooster. “You will never decide anything by arguing. The bird who is able to fly the highest shall be your king.”

This seemed a fair way of settling the matter.

The birds lined up and spread their wings. Each flew with all their strength as high as they could, up, up into the air. One by one, though, they dropped back for they did not all have the same strength of wing. The Lark flew higher, indeed, than most of them, but finally he, too, was outstripped by the Eagle, who soared and circled way over their heads.

“The Eagle is our king! The Eagle is king of the birds!” sang all the others.

But, no!

Way, way above the Eagle flew another bird. So tiny. Looking like nothing but a mote, floating in the sunlight. It was the little Jenny Wren. They had hidden themselves in the Eagle’s feathers and had been carried up with him until he could fly no higher. Then the wren had flown higher still.

“I am the king of the birds!” the wren twittered, swooping down over the others.

JeseJamesLogoWeb

The first flush toilets

The iconic Plassey shipwreck is known all over the world.  On the island for the past 50 years, this blow-in has become an integral part of the community on Inis Oírr. She features in the opening credits of the popular comedy series Father Ted.

The first flush toilets

The Plassey was carrying cargo of whiskey, stained glass, and yarn when she was caught in a severe storm and struck Finnis Rock on Inis Oírr in March 1960. The crew was rescued from the ship by the Inisheer Rocket Crew. Two weeks later a second storm tossed the ship onto the rocky beach. The day the ship washed ashore was like Christmas on the island- all cargo that was salvageable was claimed. Is it true that the first flush toilets on the island were salvaged from the ship?

Mike Tobin of the Plassey crew was back as the Guest of Honour on Inis Oírr for a special night in Aras Éanna in 2010 – the 50th anniversary of the shipwreck. Mike was pleased to see some of his rescue team, including Ruairi O’Conghaile from Tigh Ruairi’s pub and guesthouse.

“About 1954 was my first time on her,” recalled Mike. “It’s kind of sad to be inside in her like this, though.  I was very found of the ‘oul Plassey, because at that stage of my young career at sea, she went to very exotic places. She was in Italy; she was in the Canary Islands, Greece, Iceland, Angora and South Africa. She went from Helsinki over to Leningrad – at that time, its St Petersburg now. We never thought she’d end up in Inis Oírr of all places… but she’s there now…”

Mike brought the Plassey to life with his stories from the night she went down.  “I remember the 8th of March, 1960 like it was yesterday”, said Mike. “We were too far to the north of our course, and closer to the island than we should have been, but we didn’t realise it in the bad night and the wind. We hit the Finnish Rock initially at 10 past 5 in the morning.”

The Plassey’s flare lit up the sky and the islanders were alerted to the danger and immediately ran to the scene with the rescue equipment.

“The first we saw of people on the island was around a quarter to 8 – daybreak, we were very happy to see them!  They had only 3 rockets [to launch the ropes for the Breeches Buoy], they fired the first 2 but the wind was so bad it took them away, and when they fired the next rocket it stuck!  Only for that, that would have went as well, because of the way the wind was blowing.”

Thanks to the islanders’ courage and bravery, the entire crew was brought to shore safely using Breeches Buoy to hoist them in, one man at a time.

“Later, at the tail end of some hurricane, the Plassey was lifted bodily from the position she was in, and shoved up there beyond the hide tide in one fell swoop,” Mike continued. “To think that she was lifted from over there, and she full of water, and pushed up there, it would tell you the force of the seas that was around here at the time.”

Mike was asked to demonstrate how to use the Breeches Buoy.  He had to step into the leggings part which is attached to a lifebuoy. “Well I tell ya, the wind was up me! You had to go over the side of the ship, at the bow, and you went straight down into the water, and you were being turned this way and that way, and then your legs were hitting close to the rocks and then you were going over and under… but that’s how we got out!”

“Were you frightened, Mike?” someone asked.  “Yes”, said Mike.  “I don’t think anyone had to wash shorts after that, I think they were all thrown away.”

Words: irelandfamilyvacations.com and www.doolin2aranferries.com. Image: JesseJames.

I love Inis Oírr, and Inis Oírr loves me

Plaque and Hat LR

Following in the tradition of Marina Abramović, JesseJames created a performance piece at O’Brien’s Castle during their residency at Aras Éanna on Inis Oírr.

Jessica was “present” in the pitch black vaulted room up at the castle. Tucking her bag behind the gate into the room, she was present, wearing sunglasses and the iconic JesseJames red tam o’shanter. Over time, people peered into the gloom, but could not see the art piece.

Then a young boy looked in and called over his shoulder “here, dad, someone’s left their bags here.” His small figure stood in the dark doorway, uncertain of what to do. He stood a while longer, then reached to Jessica’s bag. From the darkness came a ghostly voice “do not touch the bag.” He jumped six foot into the air. He turned and fled.

A few minutes later, he came back, holding his dad’s hand. “There’s a ghost in there” he whimpered. His dad entered the room and saw Jessica, in red hat and sun glasses, holding “the artist is present” sign. Jessica stood enigmatically, saying nothing. The dad said to his son, matter of factly –” it’s not a ghost, just an artist.”