James Joyce once wrote, “When I die Dublin will be written in my heart.” There is something soulful about the city of Dublin. The earth breathes life, the brick buildings tell stories centuries long, and in the rain, the concrete sidewalks break cold water with warm stone and faintly smell of cooked sausages. The small island allows for quick weekend trips from ocean to mountain and back again. I’m not sure exactly what drew me back to Dublin, although it wasn’t the drinking we immersed ourselves in on March 17th in 2013. Perhaps it was the friendly nature of everyone around you, local or otherwise. Perhaps because of the old buildings with colored wood panels labeled with old friend’s names-- O’Leary and Flannigan; the ability to never get lost in the winding streets that will bring you back to the River Liffey, or perhaps the comforting dim lights inside a pub with a tall glass of Guinness in a corner padded booth. Yes, it was the warmness the city exhales through windy winter days that begged me back. It was a couple months later that I arrived for the summer. Aside from the small and walkable city of Dublin, loading yourself on a bus can take you to scenes you could only create in a dream. Hillsides extend and roll in hues of green and purple and yellow. Rocks still form squares in the facades remnant of jobs created for farmers during the famine.
To the west, in County Clare, north of Galway, past ruins of cabins, only one side still standing and deserted castles lead to the Atlantic and the Cliffs of Moher. Sitting on the edge of a cliff looking out to the protruding 180 degree precipices, I closed my eyes and let the summer wind do what it wished with my hair as I listened to the crashing white waves directly beneath my folded legs. When I opened my eyes, I stared at the water hitting the sides of this massive ridge facade for a long time as the deep turquoise water turned white breaking on rocks into a million droplets and fall back into place.
Aside from the castles and abbeys with massive secret gardens that look out to winter frosted mountain tops in mid summer, the country seems to have somewhat stopped in time while still moving. Many buildings stand the same, standing crooked on the city’s curves; churches untouched, their bells tolling on the hour. This country isa place I’ve genuinely felt happy so many times. I spent one evening recently coffee shop hopping with a great friend. We ended up at a bar which was decked out to the nines, decorated in Christmas ornaments and twinkly fairy lights, listening to live rock music in the bar’s basement.
Leaving the bar for the night, Grafton street was winding down with only a handful of people left on the cobblestones which were bright from the reflection of lights hung from one low rise building's face to its opposite, ready for Christmas. Somewhere, a saxophone’s low bellow filled the empty quiet corners. I couldn't help smiling to myself knowing that I now get to live in this gorgeous place. If only for a handful of months, I get to experience the warm lit corners just a bit longer.