Growing up in Swords, I never expected to live anywhere else. I wasn’t a full Dub in the eyes of my peers. A Father from Wexford and a Mother from Cahirsiveen in deepest South Kerry meant I was often defending my born and raised Dubness. I was told I had a country accent when I was at home, and a Dublin accent when I was holidaying in Kerry. Of course, I didn’t realise it at the time, but that early banter prepared me very well for a complete change of venue later on.
Banter runs through a lot of my memories of the first 23 years of my life which were all spent living in Dublin. Working in The Star Pub in Swords for years probably exposed me to this more than most. There was always a joke to be heard or a well delivered one liner. Good humoured ribbing was the norm. This didn’t cover up the clear fact that those involved looked out for each other. Swords was a great place to grow up.
I had always been aware that Cork existed. Family visits to both Cork and Kerry were the highlight of every summer. But I never imagined I would live there. That all changed in 2004 when the opportunity to work at Cork Airport arose. It made sense for many reasons and I quickly moved from the Capital to what I was soon to learn was the Real Capital.
Moving to Cork and starting afresh was a bigger thing to do in hindsight than it was at the time. Youth has a way of making huge decisions seem easy. I haven’t regretted it once. It’s true what they say of themselves with such humility, Cork is Great. Maybe not at the Football, but certainly as a place to live and raise a family.
The craic is a bit different here but it’s no less enjoyable. There’s the guy nicknamed ‘Cool B’ because his Dad is from Coolea. There’s the wide practice of people telling you that they’ll do something that you ask and in fact they mean the exact opposite. That one took me a while, ‘I will, yeah’ actually means they definitely won’t. I’ve thanked far too many people for telling me they won’t do something.
Then of course there are those rare times when you’ve done something pretty well and everyone tells you that they doubt you. No real context, just widespread ‘Dowcha Boy’. Turns out that doesn’t mean they doubt you at all, it means well done. Who knew? Far better than being called a ‘Gowl’, which is every bit as bad as it sounds.
I thought I was well prepared. I had seen ‘War of the Buttons’. I knew what a ‘langer’ was. ‘Langer’ is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s not just humour. They’re extremely brave too. The males of Cork often refer to their partners as ‘Oul Dolls’. This doesn’t seem to cause them to be ‘out with’ their partner either. That’s one custom I haven’t tried just yet. Maybe next year, when there’s no lockdown and I can run.
Sixteen years and three children later and I’m well and truly settled. I’m at peace with being a parent of Cork people. I’m hoping they’ll go to U.C.C. Shur isn’t it every bit as good as anything they have in Dublin? In fact, there isn’t much that we don’t have here in Cork.
When asked where I’m from now, I say Cork. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is here. Except for the GAA, those early days in Croker stick with me and there’s a bit of blue that will forever remain. And as they will tell you openly, don’t the footballers always let you down anyway?
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