Dervala, Malibu, 2014
Dervala, Malibu, 2014


  1. My name is Dervala Hanley
  2. I am an emigrant who writes love letters.
  3. ‘Dervala’ is my Ellis Island name. It’s really spelled ‘Dearbhaile’. (And pronounced DER-vla, not der-VA-la, in case you’re wondering.)
  4. By temperament I am an INFP and an Enneagram Type 4. (Yes, I love that nonsense.)
  5. I’m an English major turned strategist.
  6. I used to be on the senior leadership team at Starbucks. Now I’m an independent consultant.
  7. If you want to reach, try my first name at dervala.com.


  1. Born in Zambia
  2. Raised in Ireland
  3. Lived in Dublin, Valencia, London, New York, Ontario, San Francisco, and Seattle
  4. Moved to North Oakland, California in April 2015


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, 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 love, 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 the little girl who wasn’t yet born when I started this, 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 tracking number. Hello World.

10 thoughts on “About”

  1. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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.


  5. Hi Dervala. I was looking you up and I didn’t even know you left Seattle. Wow girl! I would love to catch up when I am in the Bay area or when you are up this way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: