Dr Denis Casey writes:
In Acallam na Senórach, the dialogue between St Patrick and Caílte (an aged survivor of Finn Mac Cumail’s war band) on the places and lore of
, Finn enquired of his companions what music was best. Their answers conjured up a cacophony of the landscape: baying hounds, bellying stags, swords striking, ladies laughing, cuckoos calling. Ireland
Like Caílte’s reminisces, Pat Collins’s film Tim Robinson: Connemara, based on the work of the current Parnell Fellow in Irish Studies, was dominated by sound and music, as much by the physical landscapes and seascapes that have been the subject of Robinson’s work. The landscape filled the ears, while the camera panned slowly in soft focus over Robinson’s extraordinarily detailed maps of
Connemara. Funneled wind howling through the bearnaí and mámanna faded into a soft breeze over bogs where the naosc binn ’s an crotach glórach could be heard, before morphing into the cry of a gull by the shoreline’s contours, only to be drowned in rhythms drummed against wave-lashed cliffs. Similarly, Susan Stenger’s soundtrack, inspired by Marconi’s wireless experiments in Connemara, strikingly encapsulated the natural themes, as the Irish word cuach (‘cuckoo’) was played in Morse Code while Robinson searched amid the denuded foliage of Derryclare wood for Cuach na Coille (‘The Cuckoo of the Wood’).
Connemara brilliantly brings to another medium the work of a latter day embodiment of both Caílte and Patrick, and is a film deserving of repeated viewing — and listening. Finn’s conclusion is admirably justified: the best music is ‘the music of what happens’.