When I saw Sadhbh’s post on her home town here, I wanted to do one on my own, particularly as it turns out that we are neighbours. But when I sat down to write the post, the words didn’t come as I was slightly overwhelmed by the fact that growing up in Greystones in the 90’s was for me not an overwhelmingly positive thing.
There were the constant references of not really being from Greystones, of not having the right clothes or labels, or the latent bullying because I wore glasses, of being slightly chubbier than the other girls, of the utmost reverence with which the not all good teachers in the local school were held, of the struggle to fit into the mindset of a small town when I am naturally questioning and outgoing, of the flashbacks I get of all of these things when I am in Greystones now, and the same people that I was in school with will still walk past me in the street. That familiar screen that goes up when you have a naturally out going disposition.
I went to secondary school in Bray and mercifully found a group of friends within which I fit in, a welcome to my dry humour, and other people who didn’t have all of the labels and who didn’t really care either.
I spend a good bit of time in Greystones as my mammy still lives there, and I do genuinely love the town. I spent the day at the cove yesterday with my own children and my mam, and felt that love for its quiet lanes, secret beaches and the way that it seems to gently slope into the sea as if it has fallen on one knee. In fact, I am starting a novel soon based in Greystones. Its popularity through the decades have given it a rich history, there are a few books waiting to be written.
I always found work in Greystones whilst I was in university, and this is where I have found my real love of the town resides. That magical time in Greystones first thing in the morning where I had it all to myself. First thing in the morning putting out the tables, the sun rising over the harbour, fishermen heading out to cast their nets, it was to me, as it must have been years ago. Simple and uncluttered. Similarly, in the evening, closing up, all the coffee cups ready to go for the morning, walking home and perhaps stopping off to meet friends in the Beach House for a pint or two. There was a great nightlife in Greystones, up until the night club closed, post available on some the antics that went on here: Life Skills at L’autrex
Then sometime in the last decade or so something happened in Greystones that first started as drip but soon escalated to a wave. Sports cars with the top down, people wearing jumpers around their neck, the requests for soy lattes… and the town was never going to be the same again. It became a mecca for wall to wall jeeps, insane house prices, and poorly developed property plans. My precious little village had been changed, but the heart of the town is still there. I felt it yesterday in the cove, and I hope it never goes away.
I live now in Killiney, only 20 minutes away, Greystones remains a place where I remember as a small child kicking the leaves up on Church Road, going down to the harbour to sit on the upturned boats and queuing to get into the cinema to see something that was already released on video. I forget the not so nice times in general, I left, I found myself and found a life that ultimately I am completely fulfilled in. I love to return now to do the same things with my own children that I did as a child. Little nooks and crannies to be explored, a history rich for such a small town. It is with delight that we hide under the cliffs at the cove waiting for a rain shower to pass, and I hope for many more days like yesterday.