Grasping water …


It was like grasping water to think how quickly the years had passed here.  They were nearly gone. It was in the nature of things and yet it brought a sense of betrayal and anger, of never having understood anything much. Instead of using the fields, he sometimes felt as if the fields had used him.  Soon they would be using someone else in his place.  It was unlikely to be either of his sons. He tried to imagine someone running the place after he was gone and could not.  He continued walking the fields like a man trying to see.
John McGahern – Amongst Women (1990).


Abandoned and silent ... Abandoned and silent ... Abandoned and silent ... Abandoned and silent ... Abandoned and silent ...

I last walked these fields in March 2014, how quickly the years have passed.  Nothing much has changed in the land between the Wall, Hangman’s Hill and Davy’s Brig Well. On that occasion I had recently watched Pat Collins’ Silence,  a remarkable, meditative film about loss, silence, history, memory and exile.  In a similar moment of coincidence, today I was brought back to the words of John McGahern by this film, A Private World.  I am indebted to Poetry and Environment for posting this video and reminding me of McGahern’s great art …

All we have is the precious moments, and the hours, and the days.


  1. socialbridge · January 24, 2017

    Oh Robin! John McGahern is one of my all time favourites.
    Love your photos, so atmospheric.

    • northumbrianlight · January 24, 2017

      Mine too – a few years back I immersed myself in almost everything he wrote – it is time I revisited him and maybe find the books I didn’t read (there aren’t many). He appears downbeat but there is subtle mischief in that face. Thanks for stopping by Jean – I recommend watching the film in its entirety when you have a spare moment.

      • socialbridge · January 24, 2017

        I think subtle mischief is a bit of an Irish trait.

      • northumbrianlight · January 24, 2017

        Exactly so but, not being Irish I didn’t feel I could say so 😉 However, my dad always thought we must have been of Irish descent, as in County Down – mind you, that was the only evidence he had.

  2. easyweimaraner · January 24, 2017

    Joh McGahem is just great… and your photos are breath taking… I feel sorry for the house and I wish someone woulc come to give it a new life… no, not me… my diy-projects mostly end not well :o)

    • northumbrianlight · January 24, 2017

      Many thanks, he was a quiet genius – before the renovation you would also need to build a road 😉

  3. J.D. Riso · January 24, 2017

    Thank you for introducing me to this writer, Robin. I enjoyed the video, especially his reflections on writing. Love the photos, as always. So atmospheric and one can never see too many sheep photos. 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · January 24, 2017

      A pleasure Julie – he is a delight to read. Quite right about the sheep – take them away and half my work goes out the window 😀

  4. Tish Farrell · January 24, 2017

    Such a treat of a post, Robin. Thank you all ends up, and especially for those wonderfully evocative photos.

    • northumbrianlight · January 24, 2017

      Many thanks Tish, glad you liked it. Funny how writers come in and out of your life – time was when I was obsessed with McGahern, it is time we got reacquainted.

      • Tish Farrell · January 25, 2017

        That’s an interesting thought, returning to past loves. A time to revisit…

  5. elisa ruland · January 24, 2017

    Your photographs are hauntingly beautiful, as is the excerpt from Amongst Women. I’m looking forward to exploring McGahern’s work.

    • northumbrianlight · January 24, 2017

      Many thanks Elisa, much appreciated – McGahern will not disappoint.

  6. greenmackenzie · January 24, 2017

    Wonderful winter light you caught here💞

    • northumbrianlight · January 25, 2017

      Many thanks (and good to see you back producing great posts again – forgive the lack of comments, just generally too busy).

  7. Kari Jeppesen · January 25, 2017

    …beautiful landscapes and broken dreams…

    • northumbrianlight · January 26, 2017

      Many thanks Kari – McGahern’s words certainly make you think about the circumstances and thoughts of the person who closed the door and walked away from this house for the last time.

  8. MotoADVR · January 31, 2017

    Fantastic photos!

  9. Alan Richardson · December 21, 2018

    Late to the party – as usual.

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