Trim Castle

Trim Castle Keep

Trim Castle, Trim, Co. Meath

Another day, another castle. This time, it’s Trim Castle in the Royal County of Meath. Eager to run in yet another new location, Teen Girl and I took a trip there during the week, winding our way along the River Boyne to this glorious Norman Castle.

As luck would have it, the last tour of the Castle keep was fully booked when we turned up so we opted for a self-guided trip around the Castle grounds.

Portcullis with Murder Hole

Entry was via this portcullis with its murder hole conveniently located to take care of unwelcome visitors.

Evidently, the crew of Brave Heart made it through, as this, the largest Anglo Norman castle in Ireland was one of the locations for that Mel Gibson film.

Trim Castle Keep

Trim Castle Keep

And it’s easy to see the appeal of the place. Virtually intact, the keep takes you right back to the 1170s when Anglo Norman invader, Hugh de Lacy, was granted the Kingdom of Meath and started to build the castle there. His son Walter continued the work and, it is reckoned, that it took thirty years in all to build it, with other additions made by subsequent owners.

Yellow Steeple: The Remains of St. Mary's Abbey

Yellow Steeple: The Remains of St. Mary’s Abbey


St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church

Of course, religion and government frequently intermingle down through the ages, so it is no surprise to see that the castle is flanked by churches. One is the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, known as the Yellow Steeple. Its heyday ran from the 12th to the middle of the 16th century.

On the other side lies St Patrick’s Church, a Roman Catholic church that was built in the begining of the 20th century.

Trim Castle Keep

The Keep

The castle keep itself, is a fascinating building. Extremely tall and with immensely thick walls, everything about it speaks of defense and power. Unfortunately, only those on the guided tour were permitted to enter but I’d been before and recall a remarkably intact interior, complete with garderobe. The words garderobe means wardrobe in French. And this the ancient system of toilet which was so called because the ammonia released from the contents fumigated any clothing suspended above it for that purpose. Yes, I’ve the kind of brain that stores up those nasty little details.

I also recall terrifyingly steep stone spiral staircase which can be climbed right up to the battlements. And the views, which include the Hill of Slane, and the Hill of Tara, are well worth it.

But we were content with our ramble around the grounds. Just seeing the thickness of the stone walls conjures up all sorts of images of the labour involved in such buildings. And one can imagine the clatter of hooves, the clash of sword and shields and the blood spilled in the push and pull of power over the ages.

Definitely a place back then for those who were brave of heart, nowadays it is imminently suited to anyone looking for a stunning location.


Having explored a little history, it was time for our trot around Trim. It seems everyone must be holed up in the castle there, as the town itself was very quiet.

But it was no less pleasant for all that, and even though we were caught out by yet another shower, this seemed the perfect place not to whine for a change, and to soldier on with a brave heart.

Are We There Yet?

Whey, hey, fellow Juneathoners! We’re nearly done! Thirty days of non-stop (unless you’re me!)running/biking/exercising of all descriptions are near an end.

Oh, that makes me very happy indeed. It’s hard to sustain the daily blogging/jogging effort. So, of course I didn’t.

I have got very close to running/biking 100 miles this month, though…To get even closer to the 100 mile a month mark, I went for a cycle today.



This is my bike

I admit. It feels sorta like cheating.  There is no way that my kind of biking equates with anything I do in running. Even running one mile is tougher than any mileage I have ever put up on a bike. I hasten to add that’s just me. I like to ride in low gear and take the whole countryside in.

And that’s what I did this evening, hit for the hills of county Meath.

Rolling Hills of Meath

It was rolling green countryside for most of the journey and so a delight for the senses. Honeysuckle and fireweed clamoured for space along the leafy hedgerow, the great tit warbled all kinds of variations on his “teacher, teacher” song, while milking machines hummed in farmyards and cattle stomped and moaned.

Pretty weed

A Very Pretty weed. But what is it?

And there are delights everywhere, carelessly and abundantly scattered.

Ten miles of this magnificence and I should be satisfied but no. I am hungry. Again. Damn this runner’s appetite.

But I am home and these days, there is plenty of this to look forward to…

Blackcurrant and redcurrant crumble

Blackcurrant and redcurrant crumbleAnd one last day of Juneathon frenzy.

And one final day of Juenathon frenzy.


Juneathon Total for Today: 10 miles

Juneathon to Date. 92:02 miles



































































Giro D`Italia

Why are we waiting

Last Sunday, along the East Coast of Ireland, was Giro D’Italia Day.

Yes, that’s right,  the Giro d’Italia descended upon our shores last weekend to complete Stage Three of that prestigious cycling event. And no, it’s not an annual event here in the Emerald Isle. We just got lucky this year.

Much though I love to take my bike out for a spin, I am pretty clear that this is biking of a very different sort. Beyond that, my knowledge is limited. But it didn’t stop me from getting out there to see what all the fuss was about.

The publicity machine behind the Giro have been doing their best to educate us for the past few months. Full and half page advertisements have been running in the newspapers for months and advance warnings were posted about traffic restrictions in all the towns along the route.

The Discover Ireland people produced this very attractive promotional video.

And lots of homeowners went to great trouble to decorate their homes in with Giro pink balloons, and bunting.

Some even went to the trouble of dyeing their sheep!

Sheep pink

Sheep in Giro Pink Fleece

(Image from

And, over the weekend people from all over Northern Ireland and the Republic, turned out, in their droves to cheer the riders on.

Or perhaps, like me, find out a little bit more about this cycle racing lark.

I certainly found out what it was to be part of the crowd at a bike race.

Early arrival was essential, as the Giro signs had impressed upon the locals what road would be closed and when. With extra traffic anticipated, and rolling road closures, travelling and parking would be a little more challenging

Onlookers started to arrive some two hours before the predicted race arrives at my chosen hotspot. Most were dressed in an assortment of layers as befits our recent multiseasonal weather.  Pink clothing abounded too,of course, with the occasional pink umbrella and one brave soul even sporting pink hair.

There was the low hum of good-humoured conversation, punctuated by occasional laughter. Most folk were happy to wait for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Most people. Except Jessica.

But Dad, I don’t want to sit on a stone wall for two hours!

I’m telling ya, Jessica, this is the best spot. You will see the riders coming down that hill and up that one.

But Dad…

Jessica if ya don’t stop that moaning, you can hit the high road now an`start walking home

Gardaí (that’s what we call our police force) manned the barricades and were having their patience tested too.

“You can’t cycle across the road son, you have to walk”

“No Ma`am we can’t open the barrier til the race passes”

“It should be here in around fifteen minutes”

Of course thirty minutes pass before the first of the headlights come into view. The crowd turns their head in expectation. And the van flashes its lights obligingly. But it’s just a merchandise van. Still, with Giro emblazoned on the side it is surely a portent of the oncoming peloton.

A Garda traffic car zooms past and eventually a team van.

Then nothing for another age. The threatening rain now falls in heavy plops and umbrellas are raised in defence.

Suddenly, a siren…

Lead Car

A cavalcade of Garda motorbikes spans out along the route, one driving raising his arm to the crowd who cheer enthusiastically, the others a little closer to the crowd to encourage them to keep off the road. Next the lead car and then, and then….

My camera is in movie mode and the clustered pack of cyclists has disappeared as quickly as it has appeared. It barely registers on my screen.

The lead pack have gone in a blur.

Honestly, someone should’ve told those guys to slow down a sec so we could see them properly.

But the race is not done. More cars and then, cresting the hill, a line of blue and green helmets glisten as they hove into view. Big cheers from everyone. I think I am witnessing what people in the know, and wikipedia, call a peloton. But to my uneducated eye it looks more like some gargantuan alien has landed.  There isn’t a human in sight. Instead, it’s a blue and green multilegged speed machine writhing its way expertly around bends and over hill with fantastic speed and agility.


More cyclists follow. The are threaded in little groups amid the caravan of accompanying team cars. These cars must be vital team support vehicles as each one bears racks of bikes on their roofs as they follow along the route.

All too soon, another car arrives, helpfully brandishing a sign reading Race End. The crowd laughs and starts to disperse.

Of course all this clashed with my allocated Long Slow Run, as per the Hal Higdon plan. But I figured a way to fit in the Giro and keep Hal happy. I’d arrived early to bag my car parking for the Giro and then ran three miles of the LSR.

That shortened the wait and kept me happy and warm as toast while waiting for my first Giro fix.

Afterwards, I travelled some of the Giro route along the coast and ran a very pleasant five miles around Skerries.

Lighthouse Martello

Delightful views of course added to the meditative pace. Here too, the Giro had left its mark as it tacked along the coast and on into Dublin city centre. Skerries had thrown a festival to celebrate the Italian invasion though, true to my missed-the-best-parties form, the festivities were well over by the time I arrived.

But my solo run more than compensated, as it was more tai-chi than taxing  amidst the ethereal scenery of a Skerries cool summer evening.

With the sun glowering over banks of charcoal cloud, my slow shoe shuffle came to an end. Beside my car, a piece of Giro pink balloon, lay burst and tattered in the roadside puddle, a symbol of the passing of Giro day.

The Giro D’ Italia brought a glow to the east coast and a glow to many a heart and for many a different reason.

May we live to see it again.

The South Wind Blows

Sunset Beach Runner

The south wind blows. It brings with it enough sunshine to put a spring into everyone’s step and, it seems, sand from the Sahara.

Yes, the southerly breezes are literally transporting dust clouds all the way from Africa to these Irish shores.Isn’t that wonderful?

The folk from Met Eireann, well used to delivering a monotone of sunny spells and scattered showers, are thrilled to tell us all about this piece of exotica livening up our shores.

Mind you, I’d rather I`d heard it before I shampooed my car oh so carefully yesterday. One shower of rain later and it was covered with a fine film of dirt.

But isn’t it amazing to think that same dust may have swirled around camel’s hooves, or entered the tent of some wandering Berber tribe before descending on Ireland’s shores?

And, of course,  Saharan breezes through Ireland’s hesitant spring, makes for perfect running weather.

It seemed like sand was the perfect place to bask in this geographical miracle, so naturally, I hit the beach. I wasn’t the only clever on there however; there were lots of walkers and runners about. We’re all very keen in these parts, to shake off winter’s gloom.

Runners Beach

With the tide well out, the long strand seemed as vast as the Sahara itself.

And my running focus was just to bask in all of it.

After a winter of pavement pounding, the sand was a joy underfoot. And, even though my feet got wet, this was salt water, this was the sea, so soggy socks were swiftly forgotten.

I delighted in the cry of gulls, the laughter of children and the slap of wave on the shore.

Estuary Rocks

Winding the corner down along the estuary, I soon got lost amid rocks and dunes. The sun, a pool of watery red, played peek-a-boo behind the cloud bank before suddenly disappearing and leaving a watery haze in its wake.

It was a haze that I’d noted earlier that day. Temperatures were too cool for it to be a heat haze. Perhaps it was part of the Saharan delivery, a fine haze of dust in the air?

By then, however, I had become a little at the sudden onset of darkness. It coincided with my looping back towards the roadway and lack of high viz clothing. And then the rain started. Long fat streaks of the stuff, tapping me on the shoulder, laughing at my sodden t-shirt and teasing

“Ha, you forgot about us didn’t you? Got lost in your little Saharan dream of Berber tents and Arabian nights. Silly runner in your silly, silly shirt”

The enclosing rain and darkness made me run all the harder. It’s about all I can say in its favour.

But  savouring sand sea and warmth had kept a spring in my step. I had run farther than I had planned and needed to push harder for the finish.

I was soaked. But so too was my car. In fine fat Saharan bearing raindrops. Would I wash it? Would I what?

There’s a cool map in this link here, showing the pathway of the Saharan dust and bearing the news that the dust will continue to wing our way “for the next few days”.

It makes for dirty cars, but the upside is that it makes for perfect running weather.

Long may the south wind blow.