Tim Robinson 1935-2020 (Photograph: Nicolas Fève).

Tim Robinson, whose death was announced on Friday, was a constant presence in the work I have been doing on the Aran Islands. Tim launched my exhibition of the photographs of John Millington Synge on Inis Meáin in 2009, an event that Giulia Bruna has described in her book on J. M. Synge and Travel Writing of the Irish Revival.

Deirdre McQuillan interviewed Tim on the occasion and quoted his observation that, in Synge’s hands, the camera turns “itself back to front and photographs the artist. Synge’s sitters . . . do not confront the camera, they present themselves to it frankly and trustingly. And that is the stance of Synge himself in relation to the countryfolk he interprets in his own image.’ (The Irish Times)

Digital scan of the negative of Synge’s photograph of Mairtín Mac Donnchadha, “an islander of Inishmaan” (© TCD).

That statement could apply to Tim himself, but it was the quality of his scholarship and his meticulous rendering of local detail – in his map making and his writing – that made him an indispensable guide to the Aran Islands and Connemara.

May he rest in peace.