Why Clontarf?

As Liz and I were wrestling with our decision about whether or not we were supposed to pack up our family and move to Dublin, we decided an important step in the process would be to make a return trip to Dublin so that we could meet some people, as well as have an opportunity […]

by bob

May 30, 2012

As Liz and I were wrestling with our decision about whether or not we were supposed to pack up our family and move to Dublin, we decided an important step in the process would be to make a return trip to Dublin so that we could meet some people, as well as have an opportunity to walk around the city a bit and pray. So as you may remember, late last June we flew to Dublin for about a week.

As we went we had a few main goals:

    • Hear from God…are we really supposed to do this?
    • Meet with some leaders over there and get their blessing to come over.
    • Figure out, where God wanted us to live.

#1 & #2 happened pretty smoothly.

Goal #3 was a bit tougher.

As we were looking for a neighborhood, we wanted it to have 3 characteristics:

      • A village feel with a strong sense of community
      • Places (coffee shops, pubs, etc) where people hung out
      • Close to city centre.

Dublin is a bit of a sprawling city, and we simply didn’t have the time to get to every neighborhood we would have liked to. There were a few neighborhoods we both…or at least one of us really liked:

      • Rathmines
      • Ballsbridge
      • Black Rock (this might have been our first choice if it didn’t feel so far from the city centre.)

While each of those places seemed great it was getting out of the car and walking around Clontarf where we both said, “this could be it. ” We were able to check off each of the 3 characteristics we were looking for, and we were excited to see so many people out walking along the water, and biking.

And so we came back to Ithaca thinking…probably, Clontarf…but…let’s keep our options open. However, as we prayed, and talked, we seemed to move more and more in that direction. Then one day I got an email from a friend who’d been praying for us while we were in Dublin praying. He wrote, “I just keep getting the word, ‘northeast.'”

The main way the city of Dublin is divided is north and south along the River Liffey. And you’ll note Clontarf is north of the Liffey, and you can’t go too much further east without getting pretty wet. So, that conversation with our friend was a very cool confirmation.

View Larger Map

And over the past year we’ve been following stories about Clontarf online. Including one about a flood defense plan that saw residents of Clontarf stand up to defend their community. It was exciting to watch from a far, and made me want to buy a plane ticket so I could go join the rally! Even though we are not there yet, we are already feeling part of our new neighborhood.

I’ve also kept up with the Clontarf Residents’ Association, and the more we’ve read about the community, the more it feels like a great place for us to live. (and we’re planning to be here our first Saturday in Ireland!)  And now that the kids are enrolled in Mount Temple, which is in Clontarf, everything feels a bit more set in stone.

One last thing…actually a prayer request. The housing prospects in Clontarf are not abundant…We are looking for a 4 bedroom (or 3 with a spare room we could convert. Here is a current list of 3-4 bedroom places to rent. And, when you see the prices, keep in mind that is in Euros, so multiply by 1.25 to 1.40 and you’ll get an idea of the cost in dollars…and see our support raising goal was relatively high to begin with. We mentioned this briefly yesterday, but while we could have the kids double up, and look for something smaller, leaving Ithaca has already been very hard on them. This is one of the ways we are hoping to give them some sense of normalcy in the midst of the biggest transition of their (our) lives.

When we moved to Ithaca in 1994 a great apartment fell into our laps at the last minute at an amazing rent. Please pray that a similar story would unfold over the next few months as we move to Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland.

(And Clontarf will be celebrating a famous military battle in 2014…anyone know who was involved?)

What about Bob?


I grew up in Western New York and have started and led missional church planting efforts for a little over 30 years. As you might gather, I have opinions about the church, and I share some of them here.

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  1. Dustin LeBlanc

    Bob, watching this all come to pass is very exciting.  I had a funny thought recently, you know how people always say “living in a van down by the river” as a negative thing…I got to thinking, if its a pretty river, and your van isnt too bad of a van, and the weather is nice…what is wrong with living in a van by the river?  It might be kind of cool!  Maybe god was talking about you guys 🙂

  2. Joshua Hopping

    Awesome story! It always amazes me on how God directs His people to the place He wants to them to go. =)

    Just be careful of the Vikings as the Wolf is after them. 😉

  3. Kathy Powell Nelson

     The Battle of Clontarf was fought between the forces of the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, and the King of Leinster, Máel Mórda mac Murchada (and the Vikings who fought with Murchada). I believe both kings were mortally wounded in this battle.

    The battle was fought in April, though, and we’re not scheduled to arrive in Ireland until July, so it looks like we might miss the commemoration. 🙁

  4. Kathy Powell Nelson

    Just realized that I had a remedial math skills moment there. We *will* be there for the anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf, since we should be arriving in Ireland in July 2013… 🙂

    • bob__wilson

      I was thinking that when I saw your last comment…I think the big celebration is in the summer too!


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