I come from the countryside, though hated it, I mean really hated it, as a young fella. Always wanted the city, anonymity, buzz. And a job, which was never going to happen where I was.
Now in my forties, and living a mile outside a tiny, tiny place. Halfway up a hill, on an acre. That acre is a longterm project, and I will certainly not be bored.
Pretty rolling hill countryside, pitch dark at night, dead quiet. Awesomely fantastic neighbours, who have already been incredibly generous and helpful and have made us feel so welcome, though neither of us are from the county and my wife is from Central Europe anyway.
All this ‘‘squinting windows’’ and ‘‘oppressive GAA and Catholic Church’’ vibe, it’s all a load of cliched old balls. Just more middle-class chatter, a la the dreaded ‘‘commute’’ word.
Fair enough, I’m not travelling into and out of Dublin traffic; still, work is a 45 minute commute. There are extra costs attached to that, but at least I service our cars. If there’s no milk in the fridge at 11pm, you’re either driving ten miles or you’re doing without. I have found that the sun still comes up the following morning though, and no lasting damage done.
In the mornings, the drive is a chance to mentally prepare for the day, or listen to the radio, or some music, or enjoy the sun coming up over the hills, or think about my lovely wife.
In the evening it’s a chance to listen to a documentary or a podcast I might have downloaded, maybe brush up on a bit of foreign language that I’m learning, or think about my lovely wife. Or just to wind down if it’s been a shit day.
As for cities, I am spoiled by having lived in and around London, a real city, with proper theatres, concerts, night classes.
But I’ve had enough of cities anyway, and especially Irish ‘‘cities’’. I’ll say straight away that I’ve made no effort whatsoever to cultivate a circle of acquaintances, but anyway…
They’re all pretty underwhelming as cities go, and if you’re a non-drinker you’re not missing much. Waterford, Kilkenny - not really proper cities, not much going on, not enough anonymity. Limerick - not really a proper city, an accent that would grind you into the ground, waaay too many muppets with their trackie bottoms inside their socks and their hands holding their balls as they lurch around the central parts, and generally a depressed and depressing place. Dublin - is light years ahead of the others (what does that say ?), but the 78 into town from the Ballyer with people shooting up and smoking weed openly on the top deck, the state of O’Connell St… ?
Taking a long-term view personally, one key to enjoying our idyllic life in rural Ireland is - having a plan for our older age. Things are only going to get worse and more threadbare in terms of social provision, and we can only rely on ourselves. But we certainly don’t feel trapped, or isolated here. We are liberated by it.