The Impossible Address on Inisheer

Last weekend Martin Sharry, Timmy Creed and myself gave a special performance of The Impossible Address on Inisheer island, the place that inspired the work.


The weekend began on a fraught note, with me making the last ferry from Rossaveal with only 10 minutes to spare, thanks to several delaying incidences. 

To try and further develop the ideas in the show, we decided to  hold a sound walk on the island before the show. The intention behind it was primarily that it might 'activate' the listening of the participants before the show, and hopefully allow them to engage with the show more readily. 

Myself and Martin carried out a recce of the route on the misty Saturday morning. Even though there is a stillness to the island, we identified three particular acoustic atmospheres to the route. Looking across the Foul Sound between Inisheer and Inishmaan we could see Galway Hookers sailing in the mist. 

The weather, unpredictable by a factor of ten this far west, didn't work in our favour for the sound walk. After a beautiful afternoon, the curtains of mist descended again. The first half of the walk was an isolating experience. I had asked everyone to walk with some distance between them and the person in front, and to refrain from talking. This silent march was made more sombre by the rain, wind and almost total absence of bird song. 

We stopped at tobar Éanna, a well that in folklore has the power to heal. We made the decision to turn back due to the weather, which of course, once we had set on our way back, cleared and provided some glorious sounds and sights. The most interesting contrast was the bursting back into life of the sound of the island. Once the wind had died down and some shafts of sunlights had broken through the cloud, the birds began to sing loud and in multitudinously. I handed my recording gear around to allow people to listen through the microphones, and note the difference in perception.

We arrived back to carry out the performance of The Impossible Address which for various reasons had an intensity that wasn't present at the previous performances at the Collaborations festival. It was a good experience, though probably left some of the audience feeling uncomfortable. Not necessarily a bad thing either.