I’m a country boy, I live in the back-ass of East Cork in a little village called Ballymacoda. Never heard of it? I’d be surprised if you had. It’s very small, out-of-the-way, and different to most other places I know.
Ballymacoda is in the Knockadoon peninsula, we’ve got ocean on three sides and fields on the fourth. I’ve grown up surrounded by greenery and never more than 2km from the sea. I stayed at home for first year for one big reason, I love where I live. I have the sea, the smell of agriculture, and immense freedom in rural living.
Every summer, there are endless mazes of back-roads that have to be explored, roads where we might encounter a car once every hour. There is one point on top of a hill where I can see from Whitegate, to the Comeragh Mountains, to Ardmore, and the curvature of the Earth over the sea. 30km of visibility in all directions ‘aint bad if you ask me.
The nights are so dark and so clear at home I’m utterly gutted being in a city at night. Where I might see five stars in the city (If I’m lucky), I can see billions at home on a clear night. On cool summer nights there’s nothing like stargazing after a long day.
There is the seclusion where nobody is around to give a shit when you’re in a Barley field at 9pm on a Saturday night. Sunsets from Barely fields are the best you can get.
This only scratches the surface of what we’ve done out here, can’t go into theses adventures in-depth because some are just too strange, and not always necessarily legal. But my point is, living out in the sticks is amazing in summer, I love where I live.
Spending every day in Cork city has changed how I see my home. When I started spending time in the city, it was scary to be honest. Why are there no tractors? Where are the fields? WHY IS EVERYTHING SO LOUD!?
I went from exploring the back-roads to the back-streets, I loved finding a new shortcut from Kent Station to UCC campus (without getting stabbed or mugged obviously). I loved seeing the same people every day on my commute and even got to know a few. I liked navigating the concrete maze and mastering public transport.
I loved having the freedom to wander the streets, go shopping, and do what I like without depending on my parents. It was a new freedom, different to the secluded freedom at home.. it was, better, dare I say.
One thing Cork is known for is J-walking, it is a (dangerous) method of crossing the road without the use of pedestrian crossings. In London it’s actually illegal, but in Cork it’s not just a way to cross the road.. It’s an art form, it’s a way of Life! J-walking is something I’ve adopted almost to the point of being run over a few times, and carrying on like I didn’t just narrowly avoid death.
The one thing I love most about Cork City, is the people. Not just Michael O’Regan ‘The Echo Man‘ who is cherished by all, I mean the people I’ve met through college in the past year: Friends, friends of friends, the acquaintances, the ‘don’t I know you?’s, and the ‘I don’t know you’s *walks in other direction*. Some of the people I’ve met this year are some of the best I know, all types of characters, opinions and attitudes. I’ve learnt something from everybody I’ve met and I regret meeting none……. except you there in the bushes, please stop following me home.
So when college finished for 2015 I was looking forward to an old-fashioned summer: Surf days, lazy days, long days on the farm, chilled evenings in fields listening to music and watching the sun fade out, the smell of fresh-cut grass and taste of ice cream. I wanted to immerse myself in rural living like I have for the past 19 years and become as much of a hermit as possible. But I was disappointed.. Something has changed. Today I went to the city for the fist time in 2 weeks to meet some friends for a chat and a drink, and on the way home I realised something: I miss the city and the people I’ve come to know. I don’t want to be a hermit, I want to be in Cork. I love the countryside, I do, I really do.. but I’m starting to like the city just as much.
I’ve become a mixing pot for rural and urban ways of life. I can navigate back-streets as well as the back roads. I can talk science with lecturers and agriculture with farmers. I can survive the streets and the silage.
So if you’re like me out in the sticks wondering what you’ll do torn between 2 worlds, there’s 104 days of summer vacation (I can’t believe Phineas and Ferb were right!) until college season returns. When you’re dying to get back to college it feels like a long time, but that’s 104 days of potential to stock up on cash, have a few adventures, and purge the system of old alcohol before we go back. Lets not waste it!
Summer 2015. Lets go.