After his island explorations of Venice (, Threshold, 2014) and Havana ( Threshold, 2020), Thierry Clermont pursues his quest for a possible anchoring in this land with The Galway Walk. “In the beginning was the verb”, these words of Creation seem to resonate in all the wanderings of the French baladin. Because everything about him is a tribute to this magical thing – the words of one language or another: Venetian, Russian and Italian in San Michele, Castilian, English and Russian still in Baroque brothel and, in this Galway Walk, English and Gaelic, mixed with Latin names and phrases (with this sensual layman, the sacred is never far away).
Perhaps the task of the writer is deep down to rediscover the beauty of the elements by putting names on the material: “Here the stone absorbs the light, without rejecting it, it does not respond to it, ignoring it. Earth stone and not mineral stone. ” The Corrib River which flows into Galway Bay is “a melting pot of birds – cormorants, herons, swans, mallards… -, plants and large waters”. From the reliefs of this topographical poem emerge a thousand names and as many creatures: animals, rivers, plants merging with the mineral, meteorological phenomena, musical notes and poetic songs, soldiers, saints and poets, alcohols linked to the Genius loci.
“Huge, oversized, demiurge sky. A sky that moves, like the unstable ocean, above the tender and luminous green of the meadows with short grass. ” Table of a biblical nature crossed by horses, sheep and cows on a background of hedges, cereals, sheds, “rickety ruins of dark turrets and forts garlanded with ivy, remains of abandoned mansions on peaty fields ; gray and brown stone which looks down on the centuries under a pearly blue sky. “
Thierry Clermont always has a notebook on hand, in which he hangs his sketches – occasionally, Gaelic words: gort: champion; inis: Isle; kil: church… A tribute to the Fourteen Tribes who founded the city in the 13th century, to Christopher Columbus, who gathered in the church of Saint-Nicolas in 1477 and who would have written: “In Galway, we saw a man and a woman approach. woman of marvelous beauty, who kept themselves out of the water, clinging to two wrecks. ” At the Saint-Nicolas market, the Three Kings are passing through: Burren honey, Wexford strawberries, Killimor jams, kitchari and chapati bread from India, blue lobsters, black halibut, silver hake and also cow seaweed, which we call here dill.
Saint Nicholas, where Nora Barnacle was baptized, who would become the wife of James Joyce, Gretta Conroy of Dublin people, Molly Bloom fromOdysseus. Joyce, who visited Galway, from where he wrote articles for the Small evening from Trieste: “The City of the Tribes. Italian souvenirs from an Irish port. ” From Galway, where the shadow of the Spanish presence hovers, he wrote to Nora, who remained in Trieste: “I have spent the whole day talking with your mother and I can see that she is the mother of my darling and I love her so much.” Nora’s mother will sing her the ride Aughrin’s Daughter, which moves him to tears.
To hate and love well
During this disheveled island trip, we meet Yeats, Synge and Beckett, Lady Gregory and Oliver St John Gogarty, who will describe this golden age of Irish literature in his book of memoirs and who appears as the character of Buck Mulligan in Odysseus. The touch of Clermont, modernist as much as conservative, is that he anchors his characters in a land, under a sky, in a language, that he makes the link between men and their natural environment, that he reminds us of. their story…
The book ends at the theater on the island of Inis Mór, where the narrator will greet the vigorous writer Liam O’Flaherty in his native village of Gort na gCapall, who described his island with these words: “I was born on a rock beaten by the waves and I hate the soft vegetation of the land scorched by the sun where the bones of men are not bitten by frost. ” The friends we make in this book know how to hate and love well. A companion book to Tourist guide to Ireland by Liam O’Flaherty.
The Galway Walk
Arlea, 102 pages