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Tim Robinson’s maps of Árainn, Burren and Connemara

06 April 2020

The Academy is working on the republication of Tim Robinson’s maps in collaboration with NUI Galway

Tim Robinson, who was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2010, has died in London, just two weeks after the death of his wife Máiréad. Numerous tributes have been paid to him, including those by two other distinguished members of the Academy, the President of Ireland, and journalist and critic Fintan O’Toole.

We worked with him on a book project with Nicolas Fève, Connemara and Elsewhere published in 2015 and subsequently on a project which saw him donate his art to the Academy and to the national collection at IMMA.

Once the Academy reopens, you are invited to visit Academy house to view the work of Tim Robinson, under his name Timothy Drever, which hangs in the front hall. His work explores mathematical concepts, one of which Quaternions explores the work of former President of the Academy, William Rowan Hamilton, who etched the formula for quaternions into Broom bridge when he was walking from Dunsink Observatory to the Academy for a Council meeting.

The work took us frequently to Roundstone, where Tim and his wife Máiréad lived. The welcome we received was always warm and they were extremely generous with their knowledge. The house in Roundstone, precariously sited at the end of the pier, saw regular visits by artists, writers, academics and students.

Tim Robinson studied mathematics at Cambridge, taught in Istanbul, worked as a visual artist in Vienna and London, and moved to the Aran Islands in 1972, where he turned to writing and cartography. His paintings and constructions have been exhibited at IMMA and the Hugh Lane gallery. A recent donation of his artwork can be viewed in the front hall of the Royal Irish Academy when we reopen. His books include Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage and Labyrinth, the Connemara trilogy, and a suite of essays, My Time in Space. In these he “explored the relationship between cartography, place, and folklore, interweaving Irish and English-language traditions in an astonishing invocation of the landscape, natural history, and people of this historic region. He mapped what he called “the ABC of earth wonders”, the Aran Islands, the Burren and Connemara, in exceptional detail, producing some of the most valuable surveys ever made of these complex terrains,” Daniel Carey, Moore Institute, NUIG.

The Academy published Connemara and Elsewhere with Tim and Nicolas Fève and John Elder in collaboration with NUI, Galway. The accompanying exhibition, curated by Nessa Cronin and Jane Conroy, was revived in 2019 in Milwaukee at the Irish Festival, and plans for the republication by the Academy of his original maps will continue in collaboration with NUI, Galway.

Jane Conroy, MRIA and Ruth Hegarty, Managing Editor


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