I haven’t written anything in a while, because I was sort of busy partying over the holiday period and the first week of 2013, so I will now wrap up 2012 for you.
In his seminal book McCarthy’s Bar, Pete McCarthy writes that going to Ireland always feels like coming home, even though he has never lived there. I can understand what he means.
This year felt like coming home for me on several levels.
First of all, me and Renae visited the McCarthy’s Bar from the aforementioned book. I have read the book 3 or 4 times now and was really looking forward to going there. So we decided to make a weekend out of it, and planned a day in Castletownbere and a day on Cape Clear Island, a tiny island off the coast of Cork. It was great.
The first day we arrived in Castletownbere, checked into our B&B and had a walk around the harbour. And then, ofcourse, we went to McCarthy’s Bar. Like Cheers! Earlier in the year, it looked so familiar and I felt at home straight away. We had a great night at McCarthy’s bar and even managed to locate a Chinese restaurant, where I had Singapore Noodles, just like Pete McCarthy did in the town while he was writing his book. The next day we drove to Baltimore and took the boat to Cape Clear Island. It was a nice place, but a bit odd. It is a tiny, isolated island with a population of only about 100 people. Consequently, everybody there knows everybody else. As it was getting towards winter, one of the pubs was closed while another one was open only a couple of hours, but when we asked if we could have dinner, they said it was no problem and they would gladly stay open for a bit longer while we ate.
Renae, Kristina, me and Ana on Cape Clear Island
It was a cool experience, but I just can’t get away from the idea that island people are a bit odd. I can imagine where that comes from as they are a very isolated community and everything on the island has to be brought in by boat and there is nothing to do apart from hanging out with that same group of 100 people. What also struck me as strange, was the number of old abandoned cars on the island. I looked into this a bit more and apparently, due to the cost of returning cars to the main land, most people on outlying Irish islands drive their cars until they literally fall apart and then just abandon them by the side of the road until they disintegrate many years later. It was a strange sight on such a quiet and peaceful island to see rusting abandoned cars in many places.
Apart from coming home to McCarthy’s Bar, I was also coming home in Dublin. After living in sharehouses for the first 4 ½ years of my stay in Dublin, Renae and I got a place together in February. We got a nice little house in the Drumcondra area, about 10 minutes walk from the city centre. It is a really nice neighbourhood that has all the amenities you need (shops, pubs, transport, post offices, a football stadium) within walking distance. We have our own place with our own frontdoor and we don’t have to share stairs or hallways or letterboxes with anybody else. It is a great improvement, which finally makes me feel really at home here.
Which brings me to the final case of coming home: I went back to Holland for Christmas. This first made me realise that since I moved to Ireland 6 years ago, I have not spent Christmas in the same country 2 years in a row. In 2007 I went to Holland, in 2008 we all went to Scotland, in 2009 it was Holland again, as my mum was terminally ill, in 2010, the snow came and I was stuck here in Ireland and last year we all went to my sister in Scotland. And this year it was Holland again. Keeps you busy he? But I realised on one of my last days in Holland that I was now referring to Dublin as ‘going home’, something that hadn’t occurred to me before.
I guess I am a lucky guy. I’ve got a nice house with a great flatmate and 2 great cities that I can call home. And if that isn’t as good as it gets, I don’t know what is.
Happy New Year to all of you and watch this spot for more stories soon.