As I See It: Catherine Drea’s fortnightly column for the Waterford News & Star
MY recent visitor was crowing over breakfast. People who live “down the country” love it when we visit them, she says.
Really? Says I. Why’s that?
Oh, I’ve always noticed that country people LOVE having Dubs around.
No idea where she got that impression!! Having once been a Dub myself, I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it. This is the kind of breakfast high that seems to be part of the whole package when the Dubs come to stay. They are delighted with themselves and sure why wouldn’t they be.
Usually our Dublin visitors have been reading snippets about Waterford; in the Irish Times I suppose. The North Quays are going to be a great asset for Waterford they inform us. I see Waterford was beaten by Kilkenny again, they like to joke. What’s this new Greenway like, we hear it’s marvellous?
‘I see Waterford was beaten by Kilkenny again, they like to joke. What’s this new Greenway like, we hear it’s marvellous?’
I moved to Dublin from a small town when I was 9. My parents were both from the Midlands. We were part of a migration of sorts, when the best jobs available were in the big smoke. I couldn’t wait to leave it. Dublin was always too fast, too loud, too class ridden.
Kids in my new school laughed at the way I pronounced words, the funny scrawly writing I made, my lack of wit. But I had country cute on my side and was better at Irish and sums than any of them. A National School grounding was far superior to the easy attitude in a Dublin convent.
I grew to love my school though and it was the first experience I had of a classroom where there was no fear of being belted with something. I found a lovely kindness amongst the middle class families on our road in the Southside. I made friends that will last for a lifetime.
Every year my wonderful Dub friends come to visit. They can’t wait to get the hell out of it, especially in the summer. County Waterford, still off the beaten track for many, is now one of their favourite places. We would all love to keep the Copper Coast to ourselves but I suspect they go back rabbiting on about how fantastic it is, encouraging their pals to clutter it up with even more Dub tourists!
Over the years we have had some great times. We used to pick them up from the train on a Friday night. They would be down the end of the dining car, with steak and chips and a bottle of red inside them. Dubs adore taking a trip “down the country” on a train. (Having said that, last week my cousin nearly fainted when a one-way ticket home cost her €33).
The Dubs’ offspring like nothing better than to go to “down around” in Tramore or pay a visit to Cahill’s to buy trinkets. They have all jumped off the pier in Boat Strand and gone canoeing in Dunmore East. They have been horse riding in Lake Tour Stables and had picnics in the Comeraghs. It tickles me no end that these kids all have such fun childhood memories from visiting us in Waterford.
Some of my oldest Dublin friends have since emigrated and return here from time to time. Hanging out with them we see how they struggle to come to terms with Ireland as we know it today. Some even find it hard to speak English as they spend their new lives speaking an assortment of foreign languages.
There are little things all the Dub visitors seem to have in common. They bring wine that’s not from Lidl, but from posh wine shops in brown paper bags. They stare out the window a lot and say – it’s sooooo quiet here. They take unscheduled naps. It might be the wine, but we like to think it’s the fresh air and we smile at each other as they collapse into bed of an afternoon.
There’s something about old friends. You have known them as little ones. You have drunk each other under the table as teenagers. You have had bitter arguments where one of you has ended up in tears or not spoken for years. You are now leading very different lives but the old divilment is there, the spark of your shared youth.
More Dubs are arriving next week. They know exactly what they want to do. Walk the lanes, the woods, the beaches. Share our excitement about rural life, birds and animals if only for a few days. Drink up the expensive wine while they drool about how green everything is here.
I have to admit I am probably fully responsible for the romantic image of Waterford they bring home. Through their eyes, I see again everything that’s precious about where we live out in the back of beyond. And how lucky we are!
Catherine Drea blogs at Foxglovelane.com