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TAR ISTEACH – workshop 3

20 / 02 / 12

For the third Sounds of the City session with Tar Isteach a sound-walk devised by participants was conducted. In the previous weeks’ workshop it had been decided that the group would visit a local memorial and the house of an elderly community member. Below is a description of the walk:
Leaving Tar Isteach we are immediately hit by the shudder of evening traffic, cars stopping, horns. Activity and music from shops bleed onto the pavement until the sounded disgust of walkers at something on the ground takes centre. The group stops, waits, and now crosses the road. Some trolleys being pushed by the wind emit a low, hollow creek. A passing shout is heard, the clack of a hurl and sliotar on concrete. The walk breaks up as we exit from public space to the private home of an elderly resident. 
She informs us horses once occupied the present din of cars and engines. Another prominent memory is the splashing sounds of long-removed water containers children would play beside. What was sonically acceptable has also changed; horns blew to wake workers early each morning, mills were so loud staff “couldn’t hear” and many remember a jail sentence being imposed upon a member of the community for singing political songs. Throughout our talk the television is muffled in the background transmitting the present through any silences in this discussion of past.
 Our walk now moves from this private space to another that blurs lines between public and private. We move from the open street through a cul-de-sac, into a memorial garden for those from the community who have passed as a result of conflict in Northern Ireland.
 The memorial garden is a space open to the public, yet is located in a community area, away from the main road. Although it informs outsiders of losses in the area, it is a place loaded with meaning and memory for those inside the local community. A water feature in the garden adds an air of calm, drawing our attention away from the drone of the city. A flag in the garden flaps and beats gently in the air. Members of the group comment on these sounds and discuss their associations with the memorial garden. The soundscape here, and its connotations, hold significance both on a local scale and far beyond.
 Our walk ends and the group return to Tar Isteach to reflect and listen to some recordings.
This session has allowed all involved to directly explore the sounds of the local area, through memory and immediate perception.