Connemara: The Last Pool of Darkness by Tim Robinson - review by Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Ordovician Eruption

Connemara: The Last Pool of Darkness


Penguin Ireland 352pp £20

Not a lot of people know, to quote Mr Caine, that Ludwig Wittgenstein spent philosophically formative periods in Ireland, both in Connemara in the west and in Dublin. In 1948 he fled to wild Connemara from Cambridge University because, he said, ‘I can only think clearly in the dark, and in Connemara I have found one of the last pools of darkness in Europe.’ He was wrestling at the time with the philosophical difference between ‘seeing’ and ‘seeing as’, and in this place – perhaps 470 million years old, erupted from the Ordovician geological age, from the dead oceans of Iapetus and the eastern fragments of Baltica, layered with volcanic history, pagan myths and tales of Christian saints – Wittgenstein could indeed cogitate. 

He found it poor and primitive but his stay in Ireland was productive and he returned for prolonged periods. When he died, uttering the inspiring words ‘Tell them I’ve had a wonderful life!’, the Irish influence extended to a Christian funeral, not because he was necessarily a believer, but because

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