Before the referendum – before it was even promised – I was enjoying my EU-ensured freedom of movement to live and work in Spain. On Wednesdays, I taught at a school in one of the pueblos outside town and caught a taxi back with two of my colleagues: one Irish, one American.
The American (a brilliant woman, full of potential) will have to fall to the wayside. The US isn’t Europe.
The Irishman (a proud EU citizen) was to become one of my closest friends, quite reluctantly. “Posh English twat” was his first impression of me (not far from the mark..) but suggesting we go for a drink fter work helped bridge that gap.
Through him, I met an Irishwoman (a strong, beautiful woman who’s far more confident than I could ever hope to be) also living in Granada. There were also some Spaniards floating about but they can wait for another post.
It’s hard to believe that when we first met I struggled to understand them (often mistaking their English for Gaeilge). By the end of the year, I saw them every day. The most loyal, caring friends an Englishman doesn’t deserve. I can’t imagine Granada without them.
When I broke up with my girlfriend, they arrived within an hour (with wine) and whipped up a rich, warming stew.
When they popped home, they shared the treasured white pudding they brought back.
Paddy’s day that year found us surrounded by Irishmen, in Irish bars, drinking Guinness, watching rugby and Irish dancers — in Torremolinos, Málaga.
I was back in the UK for all of three weeks before visiting them in Ireland; my first time in the country.
It was a flying, two-day visit. The first night, we went out in Drogheda and saw a local celebrity (infamous within the town) performing a terrible, country-tribute act. I can’t describe the town too well: it was foggy (don’t blame the gin). But my friend’s house had a beautiful dog and a view over their working farm.
We went to a pretty border town, with views of Northern Ireland (perfect setting for yet another speech on Ireland-UK relations. En bref: the first isn’t part of the latter and the English weren’t all that nice). Stopped just long enough for an icecream and a Guinness and then on to Dublin.
It is a very vibrant place but strikingly low and flat. The capitals I knew (London, Paris, Berlin) dwarf the buildings and the word ‘city’ still seems jarring. Nonetheless, it is a dynamic city; you can see it in the people. My time there was too short to get a real feel for the place (obviously we managed to squeeze in a drink in Temple Bar) and I will need to go back.
I left Granada over two years ago. My Irish friends stayed on a while longer. One is now in Barcelona and the other in Madrid. That first Wednesday session was a long time ago now and my life before Granada seems like it belonged to someone else. But there’s been no shortage of good times (dare I say craic?) since.
Thank you Ireland for my feckless friends and thank you Granada for bringing us together.