Thursday, 17 June 2010

Balbriggan Town

The name alone conjures up memories of the sweet summer I spent there, scribbling in a room with a sea view. It proved easy enough to arrange accommodation in Ireland, even from another country, and that is how I ended up in Balbriggan.

The town is about 45 minutes north of Dublin by commuter train, though there is no longer much of a gap between the sprawling city suburbs and the satellite communities. It has always been a fishing village, but now it serves also as a home for city workers.

I believe it has a population of about 20,000—sharply growing—and there’s one hotel, several pubs and restaurants along the main street, four supermarkets, and a good number of suburbs itself. In suburban Ireland, housing is arranged in estates where each street has the same name. For example, the Clonuske estate has Clonuske Park, Clonuske Drive, Clonuske Close, Clonuske Rise, and Clonuske Green. It was certainly confusing at first!

The houses themselves are joined wall-to-wall more often than not—it is the finer homes that stand alone—and they often have brightly-coloured doors and window-frames in otherwise plain facades of brick and plaster.

Balbriggan faces the Irish Sea, looking towards Wales, as did my window. The beach is never far away in this town, and once there, you can walk for miles to the north along tiny coastal tracks that may get a bit rugged and adventurous in places. Once I encountered a herd of cows who had trampled down their fence and escaped onto the beach. They proceeded to enter a housing estate, where local boys kept them in check until the farmer was called.

The sound of the green trains is often heard, whizzing by towards Drogheda, or the blue ones that go to Belfast. And when the sun sets over the little hills at the western horizon, the colours rise up in the eastern sky, followed by the night—and I wrote on and finished a novel or two that summer, in that little room in little old Balbriggan.
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