Tim Robinson: Connemara The Last Pool of Darkness Connemara Trilogy #2

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Iness a language thus discarded by part of the Irish population but claimed especially as their own by others who do not even speak it The nineteenth century writer D mhnall Fotharta poetically described Irish as the sweet lively tongue the strong overflowing tongue the noble high ancient tongue of our own ancestors Robinson 2009 p320 Tim Robinson explains that he does not allow his lack of conventional genetic credentials to deter him from learning loving and owning the Irish language I don t feel excluded as English born even by those ancestors for to me ancestors are the former inhabitants of whatever ground I find myself inhabiting and learning something of their language is part of my self investment in that ground Robinson 2009 pp 320 321 For Robinson his Irish language studies are part of the devotion he feels for Connemara which is connected besides to his personal and professional life here is his home and his publishing business Folding LandscapesThe Irish language is also essential for Robinson s primary project the creation of maps of the Connemara region The Irish toponyms are almost physically interlinked with the places they give name to often constituting their detailed descriptions or providing clues to what they used to look like in the distant past On other occasions they allude to the myths and legends with which the indigenous population at the time attempted to explain striking anomalies in the terrain An extreme example is the placename Muckanaghederdauhaulia Robinson unpicks this to mean the hog back between two arms of the sea Robinson 2012 p 275 In fact the anglicization of Irish toponyms a sinister part of the colonization process deprived them of their true nature and they became meaningless whimsical looking words that appear neither English nor Irish Irish placenames dry out when anglicized like twigs snapped off from a tree And freuently the places too are degraded left open to exploitation for lack of a comprehensible name to point out their natures or recall their histories Robinson 2007 p 81As Robinson travels the land on foot by bike or extracting lifts from friends and like minded people we see him chatting in English or Irish with parties of pilgrims or archaeologists with residents he uestions about placenames or holy wells in their area with men who row him from island to island The trilogy is permeated with the gratitude he feels for the welcome of the people of Connemara who correspond with him about obscure stories and offer cups of tea when he knocks drenched on their front door a traveller like of the olden days This must have developed in him a strong sense of belonging making all the painful the occasional hostility he encounters on the road Robinson recalls in that sense an experience he had in the 1980s when exploring Connemara for the first time He greeted a lady who was working in her garden in Irish but she noticed his English accent and turned away grumpily saying We got rid of the Protestants a long time ago Robinson 2012 p 130 This animosity clearly has stayed in his mind for a long time and The fjords cliffs hills and islands of north west Connemara a place that Wittgenstein who lived on his own in a cottage there for a time called 'the last pool of darkness in Europe' Again co.

Eveals that English people might come across prejudice even when they are so integrated that they have learnt to speak Irish A shared language does not always ensure communication accent andor culture can sometimes come in the way creating conditions in which one of the interlocutors may not desire to interact at all in this case the legacy of colonization appeared to be still part of the local culture Robinson digs deep into this local culture in that chapter of his book researching the history of religious conflict in the specific area that lies beneath the negative reaction of the lady he greetedAlthough Robinson claims not to be a linguist he has such an affinity with the Irish language and such a deep knowledge of its culture that he is able to speak about it in an almost philosophical way Towards the end of his project he selects two words that hold special meaning acting in a way as metaphors of the key elements in Irish culture sean old and siar westwards or backwards in time or space Robinson 2012 p 380 They are also the pillars of his trilogy where he recounts for his readers the history of the landlord families the geological movements that occurred in Ireland at inconceivably ancient periods of time or the feats of the early Christian saints that take on a veneer of mythical heroes In this journey backwards there is a plenty of occasion for retelling the stories of many Irish language writers teachers singers activists and enthusiasts They are brought together by Robinson as a committed community reaching out to one another even across the centuries gathered like those who visited the grave of the traditional singer Joe inni or Joe Heaney in 2009 on the twentieth anniversary of his death Robinson 2012 pp 128 129Despite all this Robinson might be pleased to hear that as an Irish language learner he is not representative of things old not in the least In fact it turns out that as indicated by John Walsh and Bernardette O Rourke 2017 there are now new speakers of Irish than native speakers These experts look outside the Gaeltacht for the future of the Irish language towards the rest of Ireland the United States and international online communities Walsh and O Rourke 2017 After all when people choose to study a language to become their votaries Robinson 2009 p 324 they develop a form of belonging beyond ancestry or national politicsReferencesBBC nd Languages across Europe Ireland Online Available at Accessed 23 November 2017Darmody M and Daly T 2015 Attitudes towards the Irish Language on the Island of Ireland Online Available at Accessed 23 November 2017Central Statistics Office Ireland 2017 Census 2016 Summary Results Part 1 Online Available at Accessed 23 November 2017Robinson T 2007 Connemara Listening to the Wind London Penguin BooksRobinson T 2009 Connemara The Last Pool of Darkness London Penguin BooksRobinson T 2012 Connemara A Little Gaelic Kingdom London Penguin BooksWalsh J and O Rourke B 2017 Census show we must rethink our approach to Irish and the Gaeltacht The Irish Times 7 April Online Available at Accessed 23 November 201. Mbining his polymathic knowledge of Connemara's natural history human history folklore and topography with his own unsurpassable artistry as a writer Tim Robinson has produced another classi.

Intense info rich writing exposing underlying religious battlefields of the connemara through natural history I love all his books I wish he would go down to Kerry and write about it in he same way can t wait to read the third one in the set if it is as good as Connemara Listening to the Wind then it will be money well spent and many enjoyable hours to look forward too What a well written and deeply enjoyable series of descriptions of this fascinating part of Ireland Tim Robinson s continuation of his explorations of Connemara is as profoundly marvelous as the first volume An excellent if at time overly verbose book and a great read for those who have an interest in the area I had heard a lot about the Tim Robinson trilogy about Connemara so while it seems a bit unusual to start with the middle book of three this was the only one available in the bookshop so I went with it Ironically the book starts with a description of the environs of the south side of Killary harbour down to Rosroe where I had walked in late 2019 So it meant to me as a result Dit The Irish Language in Tim Robinson s Connemara TrilogyFor the title of the last volume in his Connemara trilogy Tim Robinson looked to Patrick Pearse and his dream of a little Gaelic kingdom nestling in the intricate coves and islands in the southern part of the region Indeed Galway County is still part of the Gaeltacht the area of Ireland where Irish is used by the community on a daily basis Irish is the first official language of the Republic of Ireland according to its Constitution BBC nd However if the population of Ireland as recorded by the census in 2016 is 4761865 Central Statistics Office Ireland 2016 p 8 only 1761420 people declare that they can speak Irish of those only 73803 speak it daily outside the education system Central Statistics Office Ireland 2017 p 66 9445 of these speakers are in Galway County Central Statistics Office Ireland 2017 p 69 Regardless of all this a study about attitudes towards the Irish language reveals that 64% of respondents believe that Ireland would lose its identity without the Irish language Darmody and Daly 2015 p xiPearse probably viewed his little Gaelic kingdom as a utopia in miniature a sample of what the whole country could become after the Easter Rising in which he would subseuently take part In practice this core of Irishness ravaged by poverty and emigration was a bilingual region English valued as linguistic capital enabling the oung to do well when resettling in England America or Australia Even nowadays Robinson 2007 p 155 mentions the case of a headmistress in his place of residence Roundstone who was enduring the boycott of parents opposing the use of Irish as a language of instruction in her school The Irish language can be for many a part of their national identity whether they speak it or not for others its role is secondary and pragmatism wins the daySo how do foreign residents such as Tim Robinson a Yorkshire man approach their relationship with Irish an official language they would not strictly need to conduct their day to day bus. The first volume of Tim Robinson's Connemara trilogy Listening to the Wind covered Robinson's home territory of Roundstone and environs The Last Pool of Darkness moves into wilder territory.

A native of Yorkshire Tim Robinson studied maths at Cambridge and then worked for many years as a visual artist in Istanbul Vienna and London among other places In 1972 he moved to the Aran Islands In 1986 his first book Stones of Aran Pilgrimage was published to great acclaim The second volume of Stones of Aran subtitled Labyrinth appeared in 1995 His latest book is Connemara Since 1