The Aran Islands by J.M Synge is a remarkable and insightful read of life on the Aran Islands From 1898 to 1903.
Having just returned from an amazing 2 day trip to the Islands I was eager to read this remarkable little book that had been recommended to me by one of the Islanders. .
Synge, in his relatively short life helped revolutionize Irish Threater, was a poet, prose writer, musician,playwright and collector of folklore. He spent part of his summers for 5 years on the Aran Islands collecting and documenting stories and customs and traditions of the Islanders and the end product ( this little book) is a remarkable and important collection of information and folklore.
This is not a story but rather a series of journal accounts as the author says in his introduction
" In the pages that follow I have given a direct account of my life on the Islands and of what I met with amoung them, Inventing nothing , and changing nothing this is essential"
There is so much that I found intriguing and insightful in this account, the way of life and the hardship of the Islanders, the bleak and harsh and yet stunning landscape, the tradition, stories, food, clothing and the religion and beliefs are so interesting and I came away with a better understanding of their life and struggles at this time.
While everything has changed on the Islands with modernization , nothing has changed like, landscape, remoteness, beauty, quiet and those rugged and stunning stone walls and ruins. I loved the fact that after stepping foot on the island you can hire a bike and within 5 minutes be utterly by yourself and step back in time.
I loved this book and can't stop thinking about it, I would recommend it to those who have an interest in folklore and history of Ireland. It's not for everyone but I can see many enjoying this and at 208 pages is not very taxing.