To appreciate the Village of Dolus is to appreciate a well told lie. I’ve experienced this place three times and the longer I stay there, the less certain I become of its composition and, by extension, the composition of villages like it. My first encounter was of a transitory nature, I had spent the previous part of the journey looking down over the bridge of my nose at the blank concrete and tarmac along this congested corridor rushing out of the capital’s centre like ants evacuating a flooded anthill. Our packed public vehicle was just a single entity in this mass of disconnected humanity. I sat at the bow of this vessel, above it all, distant from it, my neck settled into a position of least resistance, with the weight of my head leant against the glass pane, eyes fixed on the grey blur of the ground below, dazed by its monotony, ill prepared for Dolus’ first surprise.
“Next Stop – Dolus”, more of the same mundane I assumed, but on entering, that grey blur had modified itself. A dancing of green shadow added an extra dimension to this composition of moving ground. Forced to seek out the source of this change, I altered my posture, twisting my neck and eyes upwards. Consciousness flicking into gear, I became aware of the moving canopy above and the vast trunks that supported them. Enclosed on all sides, a sudden awareness of the collective, gathered under the same natural roof. And then it was gone as soon as it had arrived and we were no longer in Dolus, however the image of it remained in our minds.
Weeks passed, but the image endured until I made Dolus my destination once more. I planned to proudly display this discovery to a companion as we entered Dolus for the second time. Enthusiasm lulled as a sombre black mass of people dragged their bodies by us toward the graveyard. Strangely my friend wished to follow before I could explain my previous experience of Dolus. As we approached, Dolus donned one of its many masks again, the graveyard appeared as any other city for the dead, surrounded by high stone walls with an imposing church structure by its entrance. My experience of countless other Irish graveyards had surely prepared me for whatever was on the other side of that wall. Dolus’ secret was revealed as we strolled under the black gated entrance and encountered a graveyard like no other. A protected forest rose in all directions before us, with established pathways cutting through on the ground and up among the treetops. We were also met by a cacophony of sounds, the spinning bicycle wheels, the early morning birdsong, the periodic footsteps of a passing runner, each rising and fading as in an orchestra conducted by the designers of Dolus. We spent the rest of the day exploring the intricacies of this confined world, hidden monuments in quiet clearings, treetop views back towards the centre of Dolus and reverent murmurs echoing through freshly dug holes, until the sun began its descent and the heat began to rise from the world towards the fiery sky above and we parted ways leaving Dolus.
Months passed and I pondered whether anything in Dolus conformed to its normal condition. I endeavoured finally to seek out some form of predictability in the village that hid more than it displayed. On my third visit I located myself within Dolus’ housing estates, finally a place I could understand, I had experienced these universal communal estates on numerous occasions, I had grown up on one of them. Sitting in the silence of an unused green area that had been designed in a different era, I was content in my discovery of a lack of discovery. A faint buzz moved over the tops of the houses, emanating from the main road’s traffic. A pang of sadness followed my new-found comprehension just as a new distinct sound shattered the relative silence. “Clickclick, clickclick, clickclick”. The unmistakable sound of an internal mirror of a camera flicking up and back down, exposing a sensor for a fraction of a second. A sudden sense of paranoia washed over me as I tried to pinpoint its place of origin. Turning down an alley between houses I made yet another discovery, this time of a community of photographers trying to capture the distinct properties of light falling on this small pocket of land wedged between gardens. There was a vitality and rigour to their discussion and activity that seemed both out of place and yet entirely appropriate for Dolus, the Village of Deceit.