Where I grew up: Sian O'Gorman

I was born in a place that calls itself a city. Galway on the West coast is really an overgrown town, characterised by the horizontal rain that sweeps up from the Atlantic, creating a sense that you might just be at the end of the world. The pubs are cosier in Galway as a result. You’ll find a fire lit even in summer and, as a consequence of people not needing to travel further afield, there’s an embarrassment of culture.

But my sister and I and our Dad ventured further. Every summer we went to West Cork on a long and arduous trip that seemed to take days, trundling through tiny villages, stuck behind tractors and ancient cars and sheepdogs sitting on front seats.

Now, of course, you by-pass everything but then there were all the landmarks we would mentally check off. There was the melted mannequin in a shop window in Loughrea, the cross on the top of the hill outside Bandon which seemed, as you drove towards it, to rise up and down. There were the towns of Charleville and Croom and Patrick’s Well. And there was the treacherous corner in the tiny village of Crusheen where we always sounded the horn because when our Dad was a lad and being driven to boarding school, a local gardai would lie in wait for all drivers who failed to beep and he’d pedal after them furiously.

And then a happy week in a leaky tent in a farmer’s field where we would swim everyday off Barley Cove and go for walks to the Three Heads Castle and eat crab in the beautiful village of Schull. It was a happy time but it’s happier now I can more fully appreciate the huge riches this country offers. It’s one full of memories and a sense of belonging and acceptance, a place where you are challenged and comforted, where you are enraged and heartened. It makes for an interesting life where the layers of history, culture, politics and spirit whirl around and find their way on to the pages of my books.

Dalkey, on the very opposite side of the country, is home now and although the weather isn’t that much different to Galway’s incessant rain, it’s just as beautiful, friendly and endlessly fascinating. And there is always a rainbow in the sky – it’s all that rain and sun. 

Sian O'Gorman