Dervala, Malibu, 2014


  1. I am an emigrant who writes love letters.
  2. ‘Dervala’ is my Ellis Island name. It’s really spelled ‘Dearbhaile’. (And pronounced DER-vla, not der-VA-la, in case you’re wondering.)
  3. By temperament I am an INFP and an Enneagram Type 4 with a 5 wing. (Yes, I love that nonsense.)


  1. I was born in Zambia. Raised in Ireland.
  2. I used to live in Brooklyn. (Manhattan before that. London before that. Dublin before that. Spain before that.)
  3. Then I took a year off to travel in Thailand, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
  4. Then I lived in a log cabin at Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario.
  5. I moved to another log cabin on Kedey Island, Ottawa, Ontario.
  6. I went home to Ireland at the end of 2003.
  7. I moved back to Brooklyn in February 2004.
  8. Then spent five years on a hill in San Francisco.
  9. Now I live in Seattle, Washington.


I like: people, big cities, wilderness, motorcycles, reading, coffee, yoga, hiking, canoeing, poetry, biking, exploring, listening, cooking, meditation, writing, music, movies, celebrity gossip, newness, stories, generosity, water access, wine, and solitude.

I’m interested in: national identities, user interface design, the power of place, industrial design, materialism, ecology, consumer technology, evolutionary psychology, child-rearing in the developing world, Buddhism, language, market forces, architecture, families, human rights law, mental health, and diversity.


When I set up my first Blogger account in 2001, the form asked for a tagline. For want of anything better, I put “A love letter.” By the time I had a few hundred thousand words on the clock, it got a bit clearer what I’d meant by that.

It’s all about lurve, baby.

I blog for the same reasons that Alistair Cooke read those Letters From America until he was ninety-six or seven. I’m an emigrant. My family is thousands of miles away, and my friends are scattered around the world. Each entry is a letter home, wherever that is, and it’s also a letter about home, wherever that might be.

It’s a love letter to kids not yet born, and to the friends, strangers, sisters, lovers, and classmates who might stop by.

And it’s mostly (even when I’m cranky) a letter about the things, people, and places that I love.

My blog is a message in a bottle with a FedEx tracking number. Hello World.

8 comments to “About”

  1. Comment by DeAnne Dingwall:

    I am mesmerized by your writing. I recognize your international-flavored voice in your writing as similar to other friends having that in common.

  2. Comment by snoopy:

    just wondering if you hail from Limerick,r.e. discussion on limerickblogger

  3. Comment by Dervala:

    I am indeed, Snoopy. From Caher Road.

    DeAnn, thanks so much for your sweet note.

  4. Comment by James Corbett:

    Hi Dervala, it was great to meet you at OpenCoffeeClub in Limerick today and I’m sorry that I didn’t get a chance to chat more with you. Would love to catch up with you in December when a bunch of Irish startups are touring the Valley. Any tips you could share would be much appreciated.

  5. Comment by Thomas K. Madden:

    I see on your web page reference to Bill Maxwell former chief of publicity at Aer Lingus and frequent contributor to the Irish Independent book reviews……… any idea where he might be. I expect he is now retired at one time, resided in Mullingar.

  6. Comment by dervala:

    On my list of heroes, Thomas? I don’t know the Aer Lingus Maxwell—my guy is the American novelist and long-time fiction editor of the New Yorker.

  7. Comment by JerryT:


  8. Comment by Bruce Oksol:

    I found you through “udge and a wink” (udgewink.blogspot.com).

    I love your writing. Thank you for posting.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen M-B (INFP) and only a dear friend has discussed enneagrams with me.

    Good literature, to include postings like yours and “udge’s” make me eager to get up each day, and stay up late at night reading.