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Coming back home to Mayo

An Cailín Rua

Coming back home to Mayo

Anne-Marie Flynn

ALMOST half a lifetime ago, like many others I packed my bags and flew the nest. I didn’t go far, mind, just down the road to Galway, but boy, I couldn’t wait to get going. The call of the city was strong and I wasn’t sad to leave the small town behind. Sixteen years, two cities and a stint Down Under later, I’m packing my bags again, this time to come home.
It’s a strange time. It’s said that moving house is one of the most stressful occasions you’ll encounter; I can attest to that. But moving house, county, job and life is a bit more daunting, even if it’s only to the other side of the same country.
Dublin’s been my home for the past eight or so years, and it’s been good to me. Leaving it wasn’t a decision made lightly. But the call of the west has been getting louder of late, and harder to ignore. Eventually, there comes a time when you have to stop talking about something and actually do something about it; for me, that time is now. And so, I’m shipping out. I’m coming home.
Make no mistake, it’s daunting. I haven’t lived out of a city for over a decade and a half. I’m leaving my home, a secure job with good prospects and the routine I know for an uncertain future. I need to diversify, get out of my comfort zone and learn new things to make this work. I also need to find a place for myself in a new community, get to know home all over again and forge new relationships. I’m actually a bit terrified, truth be told.
But I can’t wait.  

The simple life
I’ve loved my time away. I’ve learned loads, forged firm friendships, loved the energy and anonymity of city life. But lately, I’ve also spent a disproportionate amount of time behind the wheel becoming a unlikeable angry driver, I’ve spent too many late nights at my desk, I’ve missed too many family events, and my family.
I’ve struggled to make the trip back east on those Sundays after being home for a weekend, and I’ve found myself craving a slower pace of life. The lack of traffic. The cleaner air. The way people speak to you on the street, or salute you on the road. The dark nights. The sound of the birdsong, and the sea. Crikey, I even found myself missing the rain. I was starting to feel like a fish out of water, and it was time to do something.
On one of those Sunday night drives back in January, I had a near miss. A massive round bale fell off a lorry travelling towards me at speed, and to this day, I don’t know how we avoided each other. I got the fright of my life, but it also confirmed to me what I’d been thinking for a while; life is short. (It also confirmed to me that being flattened by a round bale in the middle of Longford is not the glamorous death I eventually aspire to.) It could all be over at any moment, so while you’re around you may as well be happy. And I wasn’t happy. It was time to make a move.

Proud of Mayo
So it’s farewell to the Sunday night fear, so long to the city noise. I’m coming back to a county that has borne the very worst of the brunt of the economic crash, and dealt with the darkest of times. But I’m so excited to be returning to a county that in recent years has found its sense of self. A county, full of warmth, that’s realised how much it has to offer, and in defiance, has taken its economic recovery and destiny into its own hands, while standing up and proudly telling the world how great it is. A county that values equality, and is becoming a hotbed of creativity, local enterprise, innovation and ambition. A county aspiring to big things. I want to be a part of it, to play a part in it.
I can’t wait to be here, and not there.
Mayo, put the kettle on. I’m on my way home.