Every August I go on holidays to a special place on the Dingle peninsula. It’s outside the small Irish-speaking village of Ballyferriter on a wild stretch of Atlantic coastline called The Wine Strand.
What makes it extra special are the people I meet, the same faces, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and, occasionally, French, all drawn together by a love of music, good conversation and the wonderful scenery.
There is a routine to the holiday, places I must visit, a drive along Slea Head to Dunquin and Ventry, the hair-raising journey through the Connor Pass, the walk across the beach to Ballydavid, and, always, the long, quiet stroll along a country lane where the rosy-hued fuchsia is always in full bloom and the mombrecia, and red hot pokers cut a fiery swathe through the hedgerows.
I pass an old abandoned house which, year by year, continues to deteriorate. I’ve imagined owning it, restoring the old rooms from the wreckage of time. I’ve imagined the overgrown garden alive with the laughter of children, smoke rising from the chimneys,and summer evenings relaxing in the green quietness of its surroundings.
My dream was impractical and impossible, and I was delighted during the bubble years of the Celtic Tiger, when the old house received a brief surge of life. Suddenly, scaffolding was all around it, bricks and tiles piled purposefully outside. But the following year the scaffolding was still there, but rusting and unused, and the old walls had once again acquired the same abandoned air.
When I started to write my book Deceptions and needed to send Lorraine, my main character, to an isolated setting, I immediately thought of this house. I created a fictitious seaside village called Trabawn. Suddenly, I was able, in my imagination, to bring the house to life, to decorate its walls and hang them with paintings. To light those fires and fill the rooms with wild summer flowers and Christmas holly, to watch the sun setting on the purple sands.
What I could not possess in real life I acquired in my imagination and grew to feel an even stronger attachment towards old house.
Deceptions is published now and in this short video I’ve tried to encapsulate everything I love about The Wine Strand and its surroundings. I hope you like it.
Photography by Ioan Roberts and Tony Considine