Country Style and a Farewell to the Coach House
It has been six years since I left my beloved South Africa to connect with my roots and have an Irish adventure.
As a child whose life experience had only been an African one, I had the romantic notions of Ireland that children of expatriates often nurture.
I was always keen to experience a Northern Hemisphere lifestyle and when the chance arose, I took it.
My mother had, some time after Dad had died,moved back to what in her heart had always been “home”. Home for her, despite having lived in Africa most of her adult life, was Galway in the west of Ireland, where as the result of some forethought by my father, I had been born. Dad was a bit of a maverick and a passionate rugby fan.He had every intention of me being a son and and if that was to be the case, then I would play rugby for Ireland. Rules then meant Irish rugby players had to be born in Ireland in order to wear the green jersey.
Durban South Africa is in essence, my “real” home, but the home of my parents,Galway in Ireland, had long held appeal.In the post traumatic post divorce head space I was in, a totally new life appeared to beckon with promise. Ireland offered as opposite a life experience as I could possibly have asked for. One only has one life, I reasoned, Mum needed the support and I needed a major change. The cliches tripped off my lips, “Nothing ventured…. nothing gained”
Living in Ireland for me meant only one thing,rural Ireland living “country style” in the west of Ireland.
When I arrived here to meet up with daughter two who was already enrolled in Acting school in Dublin I didn’t know Ireland was on the verge of one of the deepest recessions it had ever experienced. Luckily I didn’t, as I probably wouldn’t have come.
I left a piece of my heart behind with my older daughter who had met the love of her life and chose to pursue her career in Durban.
A Leap of Faith
It’s been a roller coaster. On the whole there have been far more ups than there have been downs. Along the way I have managed to re-invent myself a few times. I wrote and directed stage productions for secondary schools,started a Drama school then jumped ship altogether and retrained in Digital Marketing. My daughter found her feet and a new career and,most importantly, just when I had decided I would probably stay happily single, I met a special Irishman.
Home for us was initially a 17 th century rented Coach House in a rural area. The Irish countryside with all its seasonal kaleidoscope is wonderful on so many levels and the Coach House had great character. The challenge was to make it feel like home. I unpacked some of my own furniture which had arrived from South Africa and worked with the pieces that were already in the house. The old Coach House has great features and although I was limited in what I could do with a property that wasn’t my own, I think it worked. Paintings, ceramics and small treasures gave it a general character. It was welcoming and everyone who visited loved the country style feel.
It often pays to take that leap of faith. Leaving a comfort zone is fraught with risks, but if it works the rewards are immeasurable.
Skype and FaceTime mean that my darling daughter, amazing son-in-law and friends are a phone call away…..the joys of technology!
We are about to move on to our own little piece of this country, a cottage at the foot of the Slieve Aughty Mountains. Creating a beautiful living space which will be in keeping with our lifestyle, and offer a welcoming haven to our family and many friends, will be my major focus for 2014. I will also share hidden gems from the West of Ireland, places to stay, gorgeous eateries and places that hold a quirky appeal. I would love you to share my journey.