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  • Columbia Hillen

Feeling at home

Listening to the ‘A returning islander’ by Pat Gallagher. That’s how I felt when I first came to Bun na Leaca in Donegal.

I remember approaching the house we were considering buying and, even though I had not seen it before, I knew immediately that the view and the smells and the sounds surrounding these walls are what I strangely felt like calling home. I did not have to be born here to know that. But what is home?

Who invented the notion of ‘home’ and what did they really feel when they came up with this combination of comforting sounds?


Was it something related to the longing we feel, ever so often in life, especially when everything seems to be perfect and in the right place, for just a few moments…

Or was it something one sees in the loved one’s eyes, that flicker, that suddenly lights our world and we feel we belong…


Or simply the essence of who we are, our selves, distilled by years and experiences, and bottled in a taste of a home-backed cake or a smell of a lilac flower or the sound of a wave…

I feel home when I smell fresh pines as I have been brought up with the lullaby of the deep forests of Transylvania.

And I feel home when I am close to the sea, its rhythm taming my thoughts.

And I feel home when I can sit in front of a turf fire and the air is so fresh that I can recall the scents of different memories I have of me in different parts of the world, of me in the past and me in the future….

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