Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Reminiscing with old friends at Christmas

A trip up Killiney Hill with returnees from Texas, Berlin, London and Toronto brought back memories of our shared youth, writes Jeanette Farrel

Tue, Jan 8, 2013, 16:02


A trip up Killiney Hill with returnees from Texas, Berlin, London and Toronto brought back memories of our shared youth, writes Jeanette Farrel

View from Killiney Hill. Photograph: Matt Hutchinson/Flikr

Like many of those who took a seasonal pilgrimage up the hills and peaks and across the coastlines of Ireland in the days following Christmas, my trip with a group of old friends was more than simply an opportunity to stretch the legs and shake off the previous days excesses. Marching upwards on Killiney Hill, we exchanged stories of new homes and jobs and loves, all the while in anticipation of the view that would momentarily lay all of these changes aside.

We meandered, slipped and slid over the weather beaten path, inhaling damp air infused with childhood smells; pine cones and salt water. Each exclaimed how this must be unique to the hillsides of Dublin Bay, in denial, perhaps, of its ubiquitous presence in all of our lives, still.

A deluge of people equipped with similar exit strategies for cabin fever from too warm and excitable homes marched up the gentle incline to the obelisk, where we waited in line for a make-shift viewing platform. We stood, returnees from Texas and Berlin and London and Toronto, to revisit the places where we grew up.

With the same fervour with which we revealed our new lives, we plunged in to reminiscence, pointing without particular attention to detail, the landmarks of our youth across a city and a seascape, unparalleled if not in beauty then in an intense attachment more strongly felt than to any of the new places we have found ourselves.

Disentangling yourself from your old life is the most difficult thing about being an emigrant, voluntary or otherwise. The first few trips back are difficult when loyalty makes a heart-breaking intervention into comparing your new city to your old.

Memories trump all else at Christmas though. Lives abroad were suspended even briefly as the past caught up on all of us and left us quiet with the view. An all too brief respite in the whirl of busy lives and we were on our way again. On the Dart, to the Aircoach, to the airport: we were off back home.