I have a friend who moved to Kenmare from Dublin 22 years ago and woe to anyone who dares call him a ‘blow-in’. But, as I regularly point out, aren’t we all blow-ins after all?
The Macmillan dictionary defines it as “a person who has just arrived at a place, especially someone you don’t know”. Close, but no cigar.
In Ireland, the definition of a blow-in is a bit like the Eskimo’s 66 words for snow – it depends on who you’re talking about and where you’re talking. Not so long ago, every town and village had its own unique characteristics—local attributes based on ancestry, accents, and regional behaviors that had been firmly intact for generations.
In tight-knit communities where any outsider was instinctively labeled a ‘blow-in’, acceptance slowly declined and it took at least four generations to be classed as a native. Or, as a trawler in Crookhaven once told me, “If your grandparents aren’t in the graveyard, you’re not a local”.
But much of this geographical dogma was diluted in the economic upheavals of the 1960s, when rural towns slowly became depopulated as sons and daughters migrated to cities for careers and jobs.
In their place came cadres of bohemian aliens who bought up overgrown cottages and planted notions of biodiversity, mindfulness and whatever your own.
Due to economic migration over the past 30 years, the borderlines have been crossed so criss-cross, some estimates suggest that blow-ins affect more than half the population of some cities.
And though the day is often marked in spirit of good-natured mockery, those on the receiving end bravely endure this death of a thousand cuts as the price to pay for stunning scenery, peaceful communities and pubs where everyone knows your name. Covid-19 has pushed the blow-in agenda even further as more people from overpriced cities choose simpler lives on the fringes.
Popular blow-in towns dot the map, led by brands such as Gweedore, Westport, Clifden and Clonakilty. Chief among them is Dingle – the place where Fungie romped around and where Luke Skywalker occasionally drank a pint at Dick Mack’s.
A documentary screening later this week estimates that the iconic city of Kerry has a population of 30 percent and asks why they came and what it takes to be accepted as a local.
A melting pot where artistic expression is heavily mixed with fishing and farming, Dingle 2022 may still exude the flavor that JM Synge tasted over a century ago: “One wonders why anyone stays behind in Dublin, London or Paris when it would be better to live in a tent with that glorious sea and sky and breathe that wonderful air like wine in your teeth.”
As for the secret to a successful blow-in, perhaps the virtuoso violinist in O’Flaherty’s says it best: “If you’re a nice person, fit in, it’s as simple as that.”
“Blow-Ins” will be shown on Thursday at 10:15 p.m. on RTÉ 1
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/sure-arent-we-all-blow-ins-in-the-mobile-ireland-of-2022-41960790.html Sure, aren’t we all “blow-ins” in mobile Ireland by 2022?