Just as Odysseus was drawn to the Sirens’ song, I am drawn to the chimneys at Ringsend. So,with business to attend to in Blackrock during the week, I caught a glimpse of the iconic landmark and decided to get a little closer.
I drove along by Dublin Bay, I came to a halt at Sandymount, and followed the Siren’s call.
With my bulky Nikon onboard, there was no question of me jogging on this occasion. But I envied the natives with this fabulous promenade and glorious views in which to enjoy their regular runs.
There was ample parking along by the promenade, and, as luck would have it neither of the ticket machines nearby were working either which augured rather well for my walk, I thought.
I passed Sandymount tower along the way. One of sixteen such towers in south Dublin, it was built in 1804 to defend Ireland against a possible invasion by Napoleon. There are twelve such towers in north Dublin and fifty in total around the Irish coast. Not that I could tell all that from looking at the Sandymount tower though. I am not quite that clever. No, I got that information here.
The chimneys were looming ever closer now as Sandymount beach gave way to the greater wilderness of Seán Moore Park.
What a clever development this is. A high, wide ridge let grow wild,it cleverly disguises the vast industrial hulk of the Dublin port environs, while being in stark contrast to the more genteel aspect of Sandymount. Giving substance to my claim that autumn is indeed upon us, rose hips and blackberries abounded, while birds delighted in the shelter afforded by tall grass and motley assortment of shrubbery.
Sand and rock gave way to grass, and it was around this point that I encountered a mother walking with her little boy. The boy couldn’t have been more than three. He stepped off his scooter and looking at my camera said,
Wha you take pee or off?
Smiling, his mother said he wanted to know what I was taking a picture of.
“See those chimneys over there? I am taking a picture of them”
“Two chimbleys. Mammy, Mammy look. Two chimbleys over der”
We exchanged V signs-for the two chimbleys, of course-and the little boys scooted off in their general direction , delighted with himself.
I envied his growing up in such a wild and beautiful place, though I hadn’t the heart to tell him that the two chimbleys might not survive for much longer.
Soon, I had wound around Sandymount bay, and, while the chimneys were out of sight, I had great views of the Wicklow mountains…
…and of Sandymount itself.
Suddenly realised I was alone and on a very secluded path. This normally never bothers me. Apart from my outings with Teen Girl, I always run alone. I can be in the middle of fields, along a beach, down by the river, in the woods. I relish the freedom of all that.
But this was a little different. The sight of a discarded syringe, the proximity of the city and one episode of the TV series”Love Hate” had stirred sufficient imagination in me to make an about turn. The fact that I was bearing an iphone, a camera and a set of car keys, had significantly increased my value, such as it is, adding to my vulnerability.
This part of the walk is where the wilderness rules unabated in the form of Irishtown Nature reserve. I feared it reserved a two legged species of wilderness but, as it turned out, all I met was a friendly man on a bike. He saluted me as he passed and then I noticed GARDA emblazoned on his high viz jacket. Though somewhat reassuring, I took this police presence as a confirmation of the need for caution.
Having gone so far though, I wasn’t going to abandon my quest for the two chimbleys. I rambled back to the car (Phew! No parking ticket!) and set off for Dublin Port, this time by road.
Dublin Port is a busy place. I don’t recall it’s being quite so busy on my last trip here but, as I rambled up towards the Half Moon Bathing Club, three ships passed, two laden down with containers, the other, a Stena Line ferry taking cargo and people to Britain. Signs of economic green shoots?
And, here too, was the Half Moon Swimming and Water Polo Club. It’s delightful name owes nothing to the silver celestial body of the night skies, but is, less romantically, named for the battery of guns that stood guard here in a semicircular formation.
And finally, swinging around from Poolbeg, I get my favourite view of the chimneys. Bloodied by years of rust and work, this is their home: the industrial skyline of Dublin port. Redundant now, they are taunted by their sleeker younger replacements. They were built forty years ago as part of the Electricity Supply Board`s generation station. But, because they no longer serve a functional purpose, and are in need of repair and maintenance work, the company wants to demolish them by the end of the year.
The city of Dublin is a sprawling affair, rambling horizontally in all directions, while lacking significant verticle line. And maybe that is why the artist within us are drawn to the chimneys. But they are certainly in need of some tender loving care.
Looking at the paintwork on the Half Moon bathing club, and the stark red of Poolbeg lighthouse, against the blue grey hulk of cloud, I can imagine how much more beautiful those chimneys would be if painted red and white and if their rusting rings were replaced with rust resistant stabilizers.
And that’s the limits to my creative imagination. The designer,Michael O`Mara, on the other hand, sees a sky bridge, viewing gantries, a museum, a café, apartment complexes:
At the end of the day, money-or lack of it-will probably be the big decider of the chimneys’ fate. So here’s hoping the money will be found.
Beacons on the Dublin skyline, twin Sirens luring us to a wild and wonderful part of the city, may they loom large over the sprawling city for years to come.