The Lakes of Connemara (part deux)
This is the second part of a two-part post. To see the first post please click here.
When we knew we would have to leave Rose Cottage we looked at so many other houses but there weren’t any that were just right. As is often the case in the west of Ireland, dampness was an issue in some, our dog was an issue for others. Simply put, the question I asked myself every time I saw a new house was, “could this be our home?” More often than not the answer was no.
Whilst looking, we decided to put up a little sign on the village supermarket noticeboard. Local family looking for a home or something to that effect. We didn’t expect anything to come of it, and I was at the point of loosing hope, when a lady, with one of the friendliest voices I’ve ever heard, telephoned one Saturday morning. She had a house to let that wasn’t too far away from where we were living.
We started chatting very easily and she began to describe the house. I had to stop her in her tracks though, as it sounded more like a Hollywood home than the humble abode we were used to. I had the feeling that this was going to be way out of budget, so I cut to the nitty-gritty straight away to ask the price, and that was indeed the case. We continued with the easy chat however, about other bits ‘n’ bobs, and before I knew it, about twenty minutes had passed (mon homme actually thought I was on the phone to one of my friends. He never ceases to be amazed by an Irish person’s ability to shoot the breeze with a stranger!)
As the conversation wound up the lady asked if I was sure I didn’t want to visit the house anyway. I told her I really didn’t want to waste her time- no matter how lovely it could have been, it all boils down to the money! But this lady was nothing if not persuasive and before I knew it, curiosity took over and we arranged to meet the following day. We set off (sans enfants) and in the car we had a quick discussion about how we definitely couldn’t afford it no matter how lovely it was. Also- knowing me very well,- mon homme gently reminded me not to get carried away if it was as beautiful as described. I accepted the reminder as I am someone who tends to wear their heart on their sleeve! Admittedly I have one of those faces that sometimes gives the game away.
Seconds after I solemnly swore not to get too excited, we turned a corner and OH MY WORD! My jaw hit the floor. I was speechless. It was a house of dreams! Albeit thoroughly modern but with one of the most amazing views over the scorched Connemara landscape.
The house itself wasn’t ostentatious, but a simple design, spacious, warm, energy efficient and the light….. the light! Natural light flowing through the house – a pure joy. After the tour we were left alone in the garage for a few minutes where all we could do was giggle like schoolchildren. The thought of us living somewhere so swanky was absolutely hilarious!
We made our way back to the kitchen where tea and cake were laid out on the table. I thought to myself “this lady really knows how to sell”. Her and her husband got straight to the point. They were prepared to keep the rental price affordable for us, if we could keep the garden tame. She had me at the tea and cake!
And so on a blustery day we left Rose Cottage for the house of light. So what does all this have to do with the big move to France? Well- fabulous as it was living in this house, I became more and more insecure, as it was always so blindingly obvious that we could never stay there forever. It was our home, but not our house. We were treated to some of the most thrilling sunsets from this house. The kitchen looked west over the Connemara bogland. The combination of the ragged burnt-orange landscape underneath the blood-red sky was a spectacle to behold in the evenings. But the view did not belong to us.
I don’t know how to explain the Irish notion of property, land and home, but let’s say it taps into the Irish consciousness. This is a sweeping generalisation, but for most of us, it does manifest itself in a need to own where we live. I was as guilty of this pining to plant my roots as the next person. An Irish person makes sentimental attachments easily and sentimental attachments to “place” are quickly rooted. The economic situation in Ireland meant that I had effectively missed the boat and I would never realise the dream of taking root in my own home there.
This made me question more and more where I was going and I realised that if my roots weren’t already firmly in the ground then I could lift them up and carry them elsewhere. Everything pointed towards France. For my part I wanted adventure, to improve my non-existent French, and to feel that I had explored other possibilities in my life. Circumstances seemed to be converging towards the big move. That New Year’s eve, by the light of a full blue moon, I discovered I was pregnant. There was also a lunar eclipse that night and so it seemed so palpable in the air that the year ahead would be somehow different and it proved to be just that!