Some towns were barely touched by the "boomiest" boom Ireland never had. Today a small dog, waiting for his master to return from the match, is alone amongst empty shops, messy paint jobs and abandoned petrol pumps. Some buildings change hands every few months; go from being a sweet shop to being a cafe, and back again. But other shop . . .
We come from a harsh history ourselves; 800 years of occupation, a terrible famine which halved the population and the ongoing loss of emigration which goes on to this day. We didn't forget any of it. That kind of pervasive pain is passed down. Sometimes it's their absence that brings home the memories. What they left behind, the empty . . .
Christmas is here! I hope you find some solace in retreating a little from reality. Adventure stories and films, riding a one horse open sleigh across the snow, seeking out the magic in frosty dew drops. I will . . .