Home Again


A couple moving boxes.Generations of my ancestors owned the blacksmith shop in Fairfield. Townspeople often gathered there to chat and share news while they watched red-hot metal being forged. My beloved great-grandfather was the last in our family line to run the shop. This legacy doesn’t make me any more Fairfieldian than recent residents, but I grew up with a deep sense of belonging.

Fairfield was a wonderland of endless fields, wetlands, and shorelines for us kids to explore. We skated on ponds, built hidden forts in the woods, and collected shells on the beach. We tore through downtown on our bikes and went to dollar matinees on Saturday afternoons. We hunted arrowheads and made etchings from ancient gravestones. As teens, we drove borrowed cars far into the back roads to swimming holes. 

In my early 20s, I moved to Colorado, thinking it would be a wonderful adventure for a year or two. However, one thing led to another, and I ended up settling there to raise my children. Although I loved the sunshine and mountains in Boulder, I missed Connecticut terribly. Flying back west after visiting Fairfield with my kids always tugged at my heartstrings.

One summer, I came to stay in a cottage on the Sound. A month of walking on the beach helped me make friends with nostalgia. It finally clicked in that Connecticut would be with me always, in my very bones, no matter where I lived. I relaxed into cherishing both Connecticut and Colorado fully.  

After a lovely long stretch of equilibrium, a spate of life changes came in rapid succession. My young adult kids moved on to their own adventures in other parts of the country. My mom died. Then, the pandemic hit, and my work ended. I made an “if not now, when” decision to turn an obsession with Irish distilled spirits into a business. With my house on the market to fund my new company, I mulled over where to relocate.

I went to see one of my dearest old friends in Connecticut. Driving to her house, I felt that old magnetic pull as greenery and landmarks sped past.

Would it be caving into sentimentality to move back here? Isn’t it unsatisfying and fruitless to try to recapture the past?

When I arrived at my friend’s, my rational mind and heart were in cahoots. I announced I was moving back, and she let out a whoop. Then she coyly mentioned she’d invited her cousin over for dinner—the cousin I’d gone steady with the summer we were all 16. He walked in the door that night almost four years ago, sporting those same blue eyes with a patch of hazel. We’ve been “going steady” ever since.

And guess what? Last year, he bought a second home in Colorado. We love to spend time in the sunshine and mountains out there. And when in Connecticut, we walk on the beach and drive far into the leafy back roads of Fairfield County, just like we did when we were 16.

I cannot get enough of the New England architecture, the salt air and sound of waves, Rawley’s hamburgers, the commuter trains, libraries and museums, fireworks, apple orchards, downtown shops—and the echoes of people who were here long ago.

Not all the stories are pretty. Some of the history is complicated and includes disasters, destruction, and injustice. Some of it is inspiring and heartwarming. I relish the depth and resonance of this place alongside all that is new, vibrant, and thriving.

The blacksmith shop is still there on the Post Road, across from the Sherman Green Gazebo—now the fabulous Il Pellicano. My great-grandfather would be both shocked and delighted. 

I’m so happy to be home again. 

MauraMaura Clare is the creator-founder of award-winning Smuggling Nun Poitín, a premium Irish liquor that she distills in County Down and imports to the U.S. Maura lives in Fairfield County and also spends time in her “homes-away-from-home,” Colorado and Ireland.


  1. WOW! Awesome memories, Maura Clare! Oh to be sixteen in Westport again. Looks like you found that. Well done, my friend. Oh – the mystery man – he sounds dreamy!


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