Van Morrison, the Style Council, the beautiful south all sound like speeding down the motorway on a brisk Sunday morning.
I’d always marvel at the size of the old toll bridge through the window in the roof of our car. How big it felt, how small I was. The further we got from Dublin City, the more you would hear a chorus of “cows” from the passengers in the car.
I knew when we were getting close, I knew by the trees.
We’d turn off the road around the little roundabout. I still marvel at the big houses we drive past on the little road. How big they are, who lives there, are they kind, do they have families? Questions that have never been answered in my 20 years and never will be.
We drive past the new houses that weren’t there when I was a child but sat empty for a while in the late 2000s.
The church has looked the same from when I was a kid. The same bird's nest in the rafters, the same paint on the doors.
The silver gate is huge and creaks so loud that it echoes through the hills. I’d run down to the stairs that were cut out of the wall and clamber up them. I still do sometimes.
We watch the others as we travel to our own. “Isn’t that nice?” “Oh look that one is only new”. We’d look at the paintwork my dad did the last summer and inspect what needs to be done this summer. Old flowers dead-headed, new ones placed carefully on top. Always wondering who that new plant came from.
And then it’s silence, the most peaceful sound in the world.
The cows in the background and the leaves ruffling in the Dunleer breeze as we stand at nanny and grandad’s graveside.
It would only be moments but it feels like hours. We stand in silence until dad says “Happy Christmas” or “Happy Easter” to them and we slowly walk away.
I never met them in person, but I feel as if I know them. I’m always told how much they would have liked me and how much I would have loved the house in Dunleer and the house in Santry.
Being in Dunleer is therapy to me. It’s so quiet and so still. It’s the most familiar thing in the world to me. Our trips would be topped off with soup in The Grove pub or an ice cream in the local newsagents.
Peace means a lot of things for me, it’s sitting in Lana’s back garden with her and Erin on a warm summers night, it’s leaving work late when every other shop is closed with my favourite coworkers at sunset, and it’s going for swims in the freezing waters in Seapoint.
But nothing will ever complete with the peace and tranquillity that being in Dunleer brings me.