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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...a stylist of exceptional cadence, tact and ingenuity". A pretty damn good review....
I've just finished reading a review in the Telegraph on this book and here is part of it:

In Connemara, Listening to the Wind Robinson walks the mainland region where he has lived for the past 20 years - it stretches for 40 miles to the north-west of the city of Galway, a vast intricacy of stone, bog, involuted shoreline and scattered islands - in search of the...
Published on 1 Nov 2006 by IrishArtlover

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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but difficult to penetrate and willfully obscure
This is an evocative, highly eclectic book about the Irish wilderness of Connemara. How best to describe it? It's part natural history, part oral history, part topographical survey of the part of Connemara near Roundstone (this forms only part of a trilogy, we are told early on). However its breadth is also its great weakness. The lack of conventional structure and...
Published on 19 Nov 2007 by J A C Corbett


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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...a stylist of exceptional cadence, tact and ingenuity". A pretty damn good review...., 1 Nov 2006
I've just finished reading a review in the Telegraph on this book and here is part of it:

In Connemara, Listening to the Wind Robinson walks the mainland region where he has lived for the past 20 years - it stretches for 40 miles to the north-west of the city of Galway, a vast intricacy of stone, bog, involuted shoreline and scattered islands - in search of the same emotional and intellectual answer to the ground at his feet. The book begins by acknowledging another's passage across the same territory, in the story of a ghillie who died by the river he had worked for years.

His breath, says Robinson, was "dispersed into the air to be degraded by the hiss of rain or eroded molecule by molecule in the Brownian fidget of drifting pollen". Humanity is here merely one particle among countless others, an anonymous atom at the edge of the world.

Which is not to say that Connemara is in any sense sentimental about its author's, or anybody's, oneness with nature. The land that Robinson maps (he is also one of the area's principal cartographers: a cultivator, as he says, of the compass rose) is a palimpsest of human presence, much of it intrepid or tragic.

He recounts the story of Alexander Nimmo, the largely forgotten engineer of much of Connemara's infrastructure, details the protracted decimation of the bogs, and laments the long dwindling of island life.

"The keystone in a triumphal arch of suffering," he writes, is the historical fiasco of the potato famine - the desolate beauty of Connemara is haloed with spectres, and there are famine graves beneath the hedgerows about Robinson's village. "We find ourselves," he notes, "in a world compacted out of our forebears."

It ought to be obvious by now that Robinson is a stylist of exceptional cadence, tact and ingenuity. This is a writer who can describe a patient heron as "a monk grown grey and sinewy by fast and prayer", who on meeting a lone bull in a far-flung field remarks that the beast "seemed to incarnate the baffled surliness of a declining way of life".

At their most intricate, measured and exalting, his sentences sound like the sermons of John Donne, or the elaborate essays of Sir Thomas Browne. And yet: there is nothing antiquarian about this style; it may echo the voices of the great writers who have passed before him - Roderick O'Flaherty in the 17th century, Thackeray in the 19th - but Robinson's is a medium woven as much out of modern environmental science, land art and fractal geometry as it is from the sonorous periods of the past.

There has been a resurgence, in recent years, of art and writing about place and landscape. In books by writers as dissimilar as Iain Sinclair and Richard Mabey, in the essays of Rebecca Solnit and certain passages in W G Sebald, in the art of Tacita Dean and the films of Patrick Keiller, a sense of space persists: anxious, melancholy, novel or nostalgic.

Despite their varied talents, none of these can really be said to have attained Robinson's extraordinary intimacy with his subject, nor to have marshalled such a lucid array of resources as he deploys in practically every paragraph.

Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote that the west of Ireland was "the last pool of darkness in Europe". Robinson's Connemara is but the first volume in a projected trilogy; it already reads like a light shone on his adopted home's distant past, and on the whole planet's future.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Wonderful, 20 Sep 2007
By 
Andrew Howell "andyhowell3" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Connemara: Listening to the Wind (Connemara Trilogy 1) (Paperback)
This is one of those real achievements, a book that really invokes the spirit and the feel of a place.

Connemara is often categorised as a travel book but it doesn't so much detail a journey rather than a long experience of exploring one place.

Tim Robinson, while a Yorkshireman, has been living in Connerara for some time. He has studied local sustoms, history and folklore. He has mapped the bogs and the lonley hills and charted the positions of all kinds of historical finds.

This book is the sum of his recent life's work. Here you will find wonderfully evocative chapters on the sea, the islands, the bogs, hills and mountains, together with essays on the history of local people and the land owners who established and then ran the place.

This is a rare gem the really captures the spirit of this part of Ireland. But you don't have to know Ireland to appreciate it. Robinson reveals the area - and tells his stories - in such as way as to make the compulsive reading for anyone interested in people, culture and places - wherever in the world they are.

A real treat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Layers upon layers upon layers., 1 July 2009
By 
Stewart M (Victoria, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Connemara: Listening to the Wind (Connemara Trilogy 1) (Paperback)
"Listening to the Wind" is the first of a promised trilogy of books about Connemara from Tim Robinson. This book is based around the village of Roundstone and its associated landscapes. The book seeks to document the so called "place lore" of the region, and in its most successful sections concentrates on the clear relationship between the people of the region and the landscape. The focus here is the way that the landscape has shaped the people and the way that the people have interacted with and interpreted the land.
The first section of the book (and I think the most successful) deals with the landscape of Roundstone Bog - the peat bog that dominates the landscape and land use of much of the area. Peat Bogs grow by the slow accumulation of past material, an undecomposed record of the past. The upper layers accumulate on the past, and the past controls the upper layers, the present. The current land surface is rooted (literally) in the past. This is clearly the way in which the author views Connemara as well. At one stage an explanation of a current event begins with a reference to the Battle of Hastings! This whole approach links both the present to the past and people to the land.
This structure seems to be abandoned for a long section on the owners of a property called Ballynahinch - and while the various fortunes of the house and its owners mirror much of the political change of the last many years, it did not seem as linked to the landscape as the rest of the book.
This is a dense and detailed book which generates a very clear picture of the land and its people and would seem to be the start of a remarkable sequence.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but difficult to penetrate and willfully obscure, 19 Nov 2007
By 
J A C Corbett (Blackheath, London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Connemara: Listening to the Wind (Connemara Trilogy 1) (Paperback)
This is an evocative, highly eclectic book about the Irish wilderness of Connemara. How best to describe it? It's part natural history, part oral history, part topographical survey of the part of Connemara near Roundstone (this forms only part of a trilogy, we are told early on). However its breadth is also its great weakness. The lack of conventional structure and meandering around several issues without conclusion might be seen as charming, but I found it profoundly irritating.

The best parts are when Tim Robinson recounts local stories, preserving in print the lore of the old, which, in a generation would otherwise be forgotten. The author has a keen ear and writes well; often it seems as if you are I a dirty homestead or before a peat fire in some rural pub. Less interesting, I found, were detailed discourses on local nature, or Robinson's attempts at amateur archeology. When Robinson stops writing about people, the book gets bogged down and the narrative loses focus.

Essentially this is an in-depth local survey. Kudos to Tim Robinson for all the wider critical acclaim and huge sales, but to a non-resident or non-visitor to the area the majority of the book is only of marginal interest. I know many people have romantic visions of Ireland, but really, who's interested in, say, the uncovering of a disused well (as recounted at one point in enormous detail, yet without any real sense of the discovery's significance)? Indeed, could it be that the book's success owes more to misty eyed and idealized visions of Ireland than to what's inside the book's covers? Would Tim Robinson have been as successful if he'd written about the distinctly unromantic boglands of East Anglia or North Wales?

If that is the case, good luck to him. For he is a charming host, a good writer, clearly has a passion for his environment and Connemara's people and deserves his success. My gripe with his book is its eclecticism. Maybe when I next visit Connemara it will all fall into place; but as a one time visitor I found Listening To the Wind frequently difficult to penetrate and willfully obscure. To others never to have been there, it might seem entirely irrelevant.
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Connemara: Listening to the Wind (Connemara Trilogy 1)
Connemara: Listening to the Wind (Connemara Trilogy 1) by Tim Robinson (Paperback - 19 Jun 2007)
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