Go raibh maith agat, Ireland (April, 2019)

I’ve loved your 50 shades of green. Morning walks along the little River Todder, and hot pots of tea. I’ve loved hot cups of black coffee and the best scones ever from the Black Sheep in Windy Arbour. I’ve loved people-watching in Ranalegh and along Camden road and the way the streets of Dublin pulsate with music, written word, spoken word. I’ve loved lunchtime live theatre sessions that made me cry and laugh at Bewleys for 8 euros (spent my last day here at one of these, a wise decision, I think). I love that the invading Vikings became Irish in the end anyway (and so raven haired celts came to live with golden haired normans) and all the other shades of human too. I love that the Luas is clean and that the card lets you go into debit so you’re not a woman stuck alone at night if your card is empty and that the mall always is full of quality live music. I love the masses rolling in the grass in St Stephen’s Green at the slightest hint of even obscured sunshine and the gritty understatedness of the Liffey. I love the way your people eye roll and gently mock the great heroes the rest of the world fetishcise, Joyce, Yeats, etc. I laughed out loud the first time I heard the verse mocking Yeats the woman he could not get. I found your people modest, even shy at first. That meant I was lonely at times, but grateful for the quiet at others. Thanks be to the ATLAS girls who gave me two evenings of lively conversation and to the Indian communities in whom I sought comfort when homesick (look, that’s a more complicated one to explain). I’ve loved the fox who lives in the yard where I’ve stayed and the neighbourhood cat who marched herself in to investigate my belongings. I was totally boring and insignificant to her of course and she promptly left. The fox returned often, though, and I worry about him. Hope he is ok making a life in the green that squeezes between the crack of human urbaness. I finally stopped sleeping with scissors and managed to convince myself I was not living my nights in an episode of The Fall. I’ve loved taking real joy in sunshine for the first time in my life, so spoilt with it have I previously been. I love your book shops and the Luas. And well, watching cherry blossoms come to life in spring is a real treat. I loved the ‘Italian-Brazilian raised in Portugal’ guy at the local cafe who learned his English here in Dublin and speaks with the strangest accent I’ve ever heard. I loved Kilkenny and Jamesons and Guiness. I love that you are slower than I to confrontation over missteps in public: I hope I learn from that. I’ve not yet been able to reconcile that with centuries and centuries of blood-letting and some of the literature documenting it both shook and captivated me, but I’m from a country yet to reconcile itself to our own blood letting, so who am I to talk. It’s the same everywhere. We all have our histories. My luggage is bursting at the seams with books: remains to be seen if they’ll still let me on the plane, but honestly it was restraint on my part – I could have spent all my wages in your bookstores drinking tea and turning page upon page quietly watching others doing the same. I’ve laughed trying to explain my surname – turns out the first recorded use of both ‘Ireland’ (my mother’s name) and Piper (my father’s name) as surnames were actually in Scotland anyway (the theory being that this particular iteration of Ireland as a name (not the country) is actually a mispronunciation/adaption of a viking name anyway), but my great grandmother was an O’Halloren, and another great grandfather German, so who the f*ck knows either way, eh. Here we all are. Stay warm, enjoy your summer. I’m sorry to miss your festival season, but I’ve a date with the land of my birth: 50 shades of gold, blue, brown and red and a beautiful dog on the deck. Home to people from all the lands on Earth and to the oldest living continuous culture on the planet. Two extraordinary, different, but oddly related parts of the world. So, until next time, Dublin. Sl’an. Here I come, Southern Sky Xx

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