I grew up in a house that was originally a forge, built in the middle of the Irish Famine in 1846. My abiding scent memory is not of perfumes but of certain domestic smells surrounding the house and its rural setting – the scent of radiators heating up, boxes of gently-corroding school essays in the study, saddle soap, tack rooms, coal fires, sweaty horse flank, and our back kitchen, piled high with root vegetables in storage and failed yoghurt experiments. My mother is very sensitive to this, but the house was always freezing – you could see your breath when you exhaled. But it was a home full of love, and that’s what really matters. The perfumes that give me a Proustian shudder are all ones that evoke one of these smell memories for me. Chanel Cuir de Russie reminds me of the horses I rode out for a local racing stables, while Slumberhouse New Sibet reminds me of the eerie smell of potatoes and deserted tack rooms. And every time I smell Montale’s Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, I am reminded of the way the air inside our lunchboxes smelled on the day before school started, after a long summer of sweating, closed, and unaired, in a dark closet. I am sure that the creators of these perfumes would be very surprised to hear it, but these perfumes smell 100% Irish to me.
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