In the preface to Listening to the Wind, the first volume of his Connemara Trilogy, Tim Robinson describes a range of sounds he associates with the landscape in that part of the world: ‘the sough (which we should not delude ourselves is a sighing) of the Ballynahinch woods, the clatter (not a chattering) of the mountain streamlets, the roar (not a raging) of the waves against the shore’ (2006: 1). He goes on to discuss the ‘toneless bulk noise’ and the ‘vast, complex sounds’ characteristic of the Connemara soundscape, comparing these to ‘the auditory chaos and incoherence that sound engineers call white noise’ (2). At this point, Robinson makes a discursive leap from the actual to the metaphorical, as he likens the chaotic noise of the contemporary world to the ‘agonistic multiplicity’ produced by ‘the sound of the past’ (2). History may be musical, comprised of ‘rhythms, tunes and even harmonies’, he writes;

the actual ‘voices’ productive and constituent of those musical qualities, however, are random, chaotic and increasingly faint. In the last three paragraphs of the Preface, Robinson goes on to compare

what he calls ‘true writing’ and ‘true speech’ as discursive forms. The former is the ‘outcome of the potentially endless reshapings of sense and intricate adjustments of word to context’, whereas the latter is ‘spontaneous, [uttered] out of the unfathomable depth of personhood’ (3). This creates a dilemma for someone in Robinson’s position:

How can writing, writing about a place, hope to recuperate its centuries of lost speech? A writing may aspire to be rich enough in reverberatory internal connections to house the sound of the past as well as echoes of immediate experience, but it is also intensely interested in its own structure, which it must preserve from the overwhelming multiplicity of reality.