Dad’s Diary

Home is where our family is.

I am considering making a complaint to Mary Robinsonís Climate Justice network. The weather in Dublin is vastly better than it is in Cork, which is an shocking inequity – a human rights issue, arguably.

While Cork has been repeatedly flooded and wracked by storms in recent weeks, Dublin merely suffered a few thundery showers and, one day, a slightly breezy afternoon. Indeed, Dublin even recently experienced water-shoratges. Rumours about the desertification of Drumcondra persist.

We in Ireland imagine that we are all in it togethether when it comes to the weather: We think that the whole island shares more-or-less equally in the burdens of our wet and windy climate. Not so: The weather is in fact grossly unequally distributed around the country.

Upon first moving to Dublin, I recall noticing that it really handnít rained very much since I had got there. At first, I put it down to an unusually dry spell, but soon the awful and unjust reality dawned: the 'dry spell' was in fact normal weather for Dublin. A quick internet search revealed the hard statistics: Cork gets an average of 1,207mm of rain each year. Dublin, meanwhile only gets about 60% of that – a mere 732mm. While the recorded temperatures are fairly equal, Dublin feels far balmier with calmer winds, fewer gales, more sunshine and – above all – far less rain.

My current obsession with weather derives from having had to go down to Cork to repair the damage done by the recent storms. Our house, now rented out, saw fallen trees, slates missing and fences obliterated. One the way down, we saw a whole pine planatation flattened with over a hundred trees uprooted and laid low, as if by a nuclear blast. The West Cork byways are strewn with broken braches and sawdust from where fallen trees were recently cleared. Beloved ancient trees are now mere stumps. Faourite seaside haunts have been severely damaged.

However, the trip to storm-hit Cork was a great excuse to give the kids a trip down memory lane and so, with their eyes peering avidly out the car windows, we rolled into the old homestead, where they had spent most of their lives. They had not seeen it since we abandoned it last summer, amid tears, to make the move to Dublin. The place hadnít changed much. The same familiar old shrubs were budding, the same birdsong filled the quiet valley while the stream rustled quietly past, as it has done for many centuries. It is a timeless place, far removed from the city life we now enjoy in Dublin.

As we wandered around, each room echoed with memories for the children – and for me. Here was where I had first carried Sean into the house as a newborn baby boy. There was the fireside that had warmed us through so many winterís nights. Here was the table where we had shared so many meals. On the expanse of grass out the front, my wife and I had celebrated our wedding in a big tent with a couple of hundred of our closest family and friends.

The children wandered around merrily, drinking in the old haunts and scampering down familiar paths through the woods. However, once my work was done, they were content to leave. We also spent a few happy hours catching up with the seaside village of Crosshaven, which also had been our home for a year. 

Again, they were happy to reminisce, but also happy to part. Their home is elsewhere now, or perhaps it follows us whereever they go. They have lived in four houses now in their three to four years, thanks to the demands of their parentsí work.

For them, it seems, home is where our family is. The houses and places where we have lived merely serve as a changing backdrop in the adventure of our lives together. We are home.