and how I fell in love with Donegal
I thought I’ll write a couple of thoughts in this anniversary (almost) of living here in Donegal. It is actually tomorrow I believe, when we started moving things between Kilcock and Donegal last year, but no need to be so precise, right? It is a year regardless, and enough time to have some opinion about the area.
When I arrived in Ireland 16 years ago, my obvious landing spot was the Dublin area. While I did not live exactly in the city centre, I have been a regular visitor, and lived close enough to feel that city vibe. For some people it is positive, for some not so much – I belong to the latter.
First few years it didn’t bother me. I was too focused on making a living and being close to amenities, that it actually was better to be close to the centre, rather anywhere else. As I migrated between areas within Dublin’s vast perimeter, I eventually started feeling that unidentified feeling, which is the best described as dissatisfaction and comfort of being in a known place with stable work, but something was missing.
At the time I was obviously already living with my wife. At about 5 years mark, Julian came to this world. While he is still the highlight and will ever be for my life, his presence covered that lurking feeling, and I stopped recognising it. It would be okay if it went away, but it didn’t, I was only cheating myself not knowing that it grows in the darkness, and needs to be dealt with sooner or later.
We eventually moved away from Dublin borders, driven by proximity of my workplace as well as my wife sensing similar dreading of the dense area where we lived in. We set our roots in Kilcock, and stayed there for decade. At the time, a lot of bad things I heard about Kilcock and the area. It seems like a bad history stuck to it for decades, while it was already irrelevant, but people outside kept repeating bad stories regardless. Immediately after moving in, we felt unease. That unease was not a negative, it was quite the opposite – a weird, refreshing and pleasant experience of a place that does not hum all the time, and where noise is non-existent. First few nights we felt almost like in Silent Hill or Walking Dead. Barely any living soul and noise in an estate of at least 200 houses. Our street itself had probably about 30 houses and it was quieter than anywhere we were before.
Julian assimilated very well, got many friends there and after those ten years I must say that this place was the safest I’ve been probably. The level of safety is to the point of the boring. There was something else though, that was building in us very slightly on top of that hidden darkness in the corners of our hearts and souls. We still felt that lurking feeling that we’re missing something. Mainstream approach to things by locals, very little individuality in how people were living, it all seemed like existence for the sake of existence. Just because others did it more or less like a template, they kept doing it, not sure why. Maybe they were afraid of ridicule, being a bit different and becoming outliers, I will never know. One thing for sure is, we broke many of these patterns.
First one was when Julian was about to be part of first communion and we broke out completely. It was a double anomaly, because not only almost every single kid in his class took part, but also because of history of our families and Polish culture, where we were raised as Catholic. The school was Catholic too, but for couple of years already accepted and thrived with different cultures, so some kids that did not take part, were either of different belief or none (like Julian). I disagree with forcing religion onto children. I don’t have any problem with different beliefs themselves, or what anyone believes in, but kids shall have the purest start possible. A lot of guidance from parents, but nothing forcefully implemented, like religion does. It closes mind to many thing, and is very limiting in next stages of life for a young person that does not understand why they believe in it in the first place (and most don’t). Religion should be for adults, when the brain is developed and the choice is more reasonable, rather than programmed into young brain sneakily, to keep spreading the belief, rather than making it a case of something valuable that people pursue in life later on.
Second was the fact that we moved out. Most of the people who lived there and moved out, they only migrated couple of houses away, within the estate or within Kilcock area. We left everything behind.
Once in Donegal, everything was new, unknown and unexplored. This feeling, as insecure as it can get, is also a feeling of clean sheet, and purifies souls and heart dramatically. I could feel that even if that long lasting and building feeling of unhappiness and unease, finally started to wear down. Also civilizational programming gets us used to many amenities around, ease of access and other things that make this process of detachment impossible for many people. We felt that a little, when we realised that many shops or services are not within the reach of a hand, nor within 30-40 km range – we are in fact in a touristic and rural spot. The last part of land that is divided from American continent by the massive body of water – Atlantic Ocean. We can say that we turned our back to Europe, and started looking at the unexplored in majority, and stunningly pure areas of nature that many of us admire in social media in awe.
We are one year in, now. I don’t hike as much as I would want to, but each and every hike is as close to the nature as it can get. Air is much fresher and satisfying than it ever was. Julian found new friends quickly, and still is my own best friend as we chat a lot about these things. We promised ourselves that we will not be afraid of changes ever, quite the opposite – w plan on making bigger, bolder and more changes as we go forward. This decision is our family decision. My wife’s, Julian’s and my own.
Why? Because regardless what different beliefs say, we should still live on a “safe” side and assume that life is only one. Birth and death. We can’t choose how we are born…
…but we can choose how we live, and possibly how we die.
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