Monday, May 16, 2011

Must've Been One Tired Fellow

"Like a poet I know who finds his lines by glancing along titles on library shelves, so the fisherman low among the waves raises his eyes and picks words off the land with which to write sentences on the sea." - Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage.

Cliffs on Inis Mor near Dun Duchathair (the Black Fort)
In preparation for my trip to Aran this summer, I'm rereading Tim Robinson's books. Tim Robinson walked nearly every square inch of Inishmore, an unbelievable feat, and wrote two books about each rock formation, cliff, and piece of land. The first book, Pilgrimage, is just the perimeter of the island. The second book, Labyrinth, is the interior.

He created a beautiful map of the Aran Islands, one that I purchased last summer. When I was on the island I used it every day that I went out for a hike, but I only opened it up in my room before I went out, and brought another more general map out with me while I was walking. Robinson's map is just too beautiful to get wet or dirty.

What I love about Pilgrimage (well, there are many MANY things I love about this book) is that Tim Robinson decided to circle the island clockwise in keeping with the traditional method for the ritual circling of holy wells. In doing so, he infuses his story with an apt sacredness that makes his writing all the more lyrical.

I'm in such awe of the work it must have taken Robinson to write these books, though he must have been totally obsessed with the subject in order to even attempt this. As one man I spoke to last summer on Inis Mor told me, "Tim Robinson is probably the kind of person if you met you'd want to buy a coffee, because he was probably walking for five days beforehand!"

If I ran into Tim Robinson, I would be honored to buy him a coffee.

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