J.M. Synge, one of the greatest English language playwrites of the 20th century, immortalized the Aran Islands and its people with vivid written portraits that are among the greatest in modern literature. Synge’s vibrant language and earthy themes breathtakingly capture the folklore and way of life that has since perished on these remote northern islands. As an aspiring writer in 1897, Synge was commanded by William Butler Yeats to, “Go to the Aran Islands. Live there as one of the people themselves; express a life that has never found expression.” Synge captures his first four visits to the islands in this magical book. However, their influence continued to permeate his work, including The Playboy of the Western World. Filled with the exuberant energy of an artist coming into his own, The Aran Islands provides an unforgettable look at a land that holds Ireland’s ancestral language, culture and uncorrupted heart. Synge’s lyrical glimpses into the past, coupled with Donal Donnelly’s rich, lilting voice transports listeners to these tiny Emerald Islands.
The Aran Islands are a tiny cluster of Irish-speaking lands off the western coast of Ireland, far removed from Ireland’s cultural and literary center. John Millington Synge, one of the wild boys of Irish writing, took a trip to the islands in 1898 on advice from William Butler Yeats. Soon after, he published "his first serious piece of work", this memoir of life on the traditional islands.
Performed in a beautifully rolling Irish tenor by Donal Donnelly, The Aran Islands treats the listener to "long-legged pigs...playing in the surf", sweeping fogs, and a cast of unforgettable, rustic characters. A fresh memory in its time, The Aran Islands now has the whisper of elegy. Don’t skip the introduction by the late contemporary master, Frank McCourt.
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