THE MAP was spread out on a pool table in a darkened back room of Brannens Bar in Newport, a small town ear the western coast of Ireland. The place smelled
of old wood and smoke, as a pub should. It was a snug den in
which to enjoy a pint and some music. But I was not there for the
music, beer, and revelry— what the Irish refer to as craic. I had
come about a walk through a wilderness.
The bar’s proprietor, John Chambers, ran his finger over
the contour lines. An imposing man with close-cropped hair,
he spoke in a rapid and melodic western Irish lilt. He and his
wife, Clare, lead a group of local hikers and hill walkers called the
Nephin Begers, and I had heard that the two know the remote
reaches of this area about as well as anyone. “You’ll want to follow
Two Kinds of Wilderness
On foot through an ecological experiment
Nephin, made in 2014, is a silent fine-art film shot through a
car window in Connacht, Ireland. The image of a mountain
is subtly transformed during the loop of the film by movement,
distance, and perspective. A spot of black paint on window
glass—seen here in each still—is an extension of the eye,
a marker of attention trying to settle on a landscape that
constantly hides and reveals itself anew.
To watch Nephin, visit www.orionmagazine.org/multimedia.
IMAGES FROM NEPHIN, A FILM BY NIAMH O’MALLEY