The citizens of the taverns in this Basque town have welcomed me into their convivial way of life. I am hooked

After getting an email offering him work in the Basque Country, he left his parents’ house in Kimmage and headed to a small coastal town between Bilbao and Donostia

After an email offering me work in the Basque Country in the summer of 2019, I took my summer hat from where it hung, on the door of my bedroom in my parents’ house in Kimmage, packed it in a suitcase along with other necessities and headed to Zumaia, a small coastal town between Bilbao and Donostia (San Sebastián).

That hat now hangs on my bedroom door here and gets called upon considerably more than the customary week or so it was required while living in Dublin.

How Zumaia came to be a home-from-home can be explained in two ways. The teacher’s hat I wore from 2004 to 2012 kept slipping off the hooks of the various Dublin secondary schools I taught at – 15 in seven years, some on more than one occasion.

Then I donned a writing hat from 2012 to 2019. It failed to catch on to any of the hooks of the many various publications with which I corresponded. If memory serves me, of the 180 non-fictional short pieces I wrote in that time, only three were published and two of them in letters sections.


Then a trip to the Basque Country in 2006 with a mate of mine from Co Mayo on a surfing holiday took me to San Sebastián (Donostia). There I discovered a town with many health shops; I’d been diagnosed as a coeliac the previous year. It also had a beautiful Victorian railed curved beach, The Concha. Add to that the nightlife of the labyrinthine laneways of Parte Vieja. Also the plates of Pintxos – Basque for tapas – on most of the bar counters, along with a glass of vino which would normally set you back about €1.50.

I was hooked and came back every year afterwards to give my summer hat an extra week’s outing.

In 2018 I applied to various English academies in Donostia without any joy. In 2019 I changed tack and applied to the English schools from Bilbao to Zarautz, whereupon I received the job offer from the one in Zumaia.

Since then, I have worked in various academies in Gipuzkoa and am presently in one in Deba. I still live in Zumaia though. This is mainly due to the citizens of the bars and taverns of the town, who have welcomed me into their convivial way of life.

To them I tip my summer hat.

Poraic Cahill is from Kimmage, Dublin. He left in September 2019 and went to Zumaia between Bilbao and Donostia to teach English, which he still does. He also writes short stories

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