Fingal’s Shore


Sunday was glorious day here in the Emerald Isle. I ran, of course, like a fool, in the midday heat. Oh, not that it was excessively warm, mind. But I could have done with ditching the base layer and winter leggings. Instead, I sweltered and cursed and whined around the five mile trail. And gratefully glugged my bottle of lukewarm water on my return to the car.

Delighting in our rare Spring heat later that day I ventured along by Fingal`s shores. The world and his mother were there, of course: Dublin Bay on a sunny Sunday is always a crowd pleaser.

Teen Girl came along too, once lunch in Avoca was guaranteed.

Malahide is part of an area known as Fingal. A placename can whisper a lot about an area’s history and this is certainly true of the word Fingal.  Translated from the Irish, it means “Land of the Fair Haired Stranger” and is a reminder of the time in the 8th century when Vikings invaded the land.

Our first stop then, was at Malahide Castle grounds for the prerequisite eats in their popular Avoca café. A short drive afterwards took us to the beach and the start of our ramble.

Walking along the shore, it amused me to imagine those fair haired foreigners wading to shore with shields and swords in their initial conquest of Ireland in the 8th century. The seas are relatively calm along this part of the Irish coast, and, having neither cliff nor mountain nor woodland to negotiate, the land and its people must have been easily accessed by these expert invaders.

But all was calm last Sunday. Drawn now by the sight of Howth head, we drove on through Portmarnock, Baldoyle and Sutton on to Howth itself, the better to get a view of the harbour and Ireland’s Eye.

Howth harbour is the place to be of a warm Sunday. The Viking longships are long gone and in their place, moored yachts bob in the harbour.  The only marauders were tourists who had invaded the town, the better to climb Howth Head or, like us, get a view of Ireland’s Eye from the pier. All about we could hear a variety of languages and, indeed, several varients on Dublinese.

Reaching the lighthouse, it is impossible not to admire this granite structure. Built in 1817, it looks set in all its granite splendour to stand guard over the south harbour for at least another two hundred years.

Further out, on Ireland’s Eye, I caught sight of a Martello Tower. Part of Dublin’s defence system of Martello towers, built early the 19th century, the one in Ireland’s Eye is in ruins now much like it’s sister tower further south on Dalkey Island.

Also from the shore, one can see the ruins of an eighth century church, the church of St. Nessan. I wonder if it had fallen prey to the Vikings. Eye is the Norse word for Island, so they had at least left their mark on the island’s name and a reminder of their conquests here.

The sun was considering its descent by now, into the westerly skies. Would it go down in a blaze of pink sodden glory? Or tease the camera wielding folk with a sudden departure behind a blackening cloud? I would have lingered another hour or so, just to find out.

But Teen Girl had used up all her patience by then. I would have bribed her with a triple scoop ice cream from Maud`s but that would be entirely selfish and not in her very best interests. The fact that the ice cream and patience might be gone long before sunset had nothing to do with my decision.

Anyway, I told myself, the harbour will always be there and there’ll be other Sundays, perfect Sundays with ice-cream and crowds, and sun glinting on stone and water and thoughts of days long gone.



Happy Birthday Parkrun!

Malahide Castle and park

Malahide Castle and park

Yes, Parkrun Ireland is one year old today, whey! hey! And I was at Malahide Parkrun to celebrate.

Parkruns are free, timed 5km runs. In this neck of the woods, they`re run at 9.30 am every Saturday morning and in six locations all around the country. Volunteers make the whole effort possible, along with sponsorship to cover the cost of setting them up and keeping them going.

Malahide Castle grounds is where they were first established one year ago in Ireland. So it was a first birthday for Malahide parkrun, and a first birthday for Parkrun Ireland too!

Luckily, the weather co-operated. It was a crisp, dry, chilly morning-perfect for running. The parkrun assembly area was suitably bedecked with bunting and balloons and everyone was out in their winter running gear.

What with the start of a new year and birthday celebrations everyone was in great form heading for the starting line and soon we were off.

Last week  two hundred and seventy four runners participated in Malahide`s run, yesterday morning that number almost doubled. This made for slightly trickier conditions, especially for slackers like me. Overtaking proved difficult right from the start so instead I sat back, figuratively speaking of course, and just enjoyed the run.

No personal best then, though I was surprised to find I was only thirty seconds slower than last week, when I felt quite wretched throughout most of the run. Is it worth getting to puke point to notch thirty seconds of my time then? Well, maybe on occasion.

Heading off for the celebrations afterwards, I caught up with a delightful lady who was ready to tell her parkrun tale. She had high praise for the whole parkrun concept.

The fact that it`s free means so many more people can attend and there really is such a mix of abilities here from the elite, to those who truly struggle to run five km.

We agreed that the strugglers deserved as much credit as those who win. Nobody knows the journey so many of them have taken even to step into running shoes. That understanding came from our own personal running journeys, perhaps, as we both agreed that just a few years ago, running five km seemed impossible.

I headed on, then, for the celebrations in Avoca café.

Welcome to Avoca

The place was thronged-particularly the café – for it was here the first birthday presentations would be made. It was easy to pick out the runners from the normal Saturday crowd, of course and the place was abuzz with endorphin-charged babble.

My regular reader will know how much I love Avoca. I`m a big fan of their recipes, their merchandise and their whole look. And I was thrilled to see they had their luscious homemade scones on display. My performance did nothing to merit jam and cream, nor, indeed, the scone itself, but I piled them on anyway, queued for the till and was told

You were in the parkrun, weren`t you? Well, the coffee and scone are on the house”

Nom Nom Thank you Avoca

I`d heard the free tea and coffee rumour but not about the free food. And I am pleased to report that it was all the more delicious for not costing me a cent!

birthday cake

And take a look at that birthday cake. Doesn`t that look so gorgeous? Avoca supplied it free gratis too. No idea who took that pic but I pilfered it from the Malahide parkrun facebook page which you might want to look at here.

I`ve two fellow bloggers who are also big parkrun fans, though not just for the cake! Shaz regularly runs and smashes her 5 km PB in Killerton, Exeter.

And somewhat further south-Tasmania, to be precise- Unsportywoman helped Launceston parkrun celebrate their first birthday too.

None of these runs would be possible, though, without the wonderful volunteers who turn up every Saturday. And my thanks too, to the wonderful person or people who made Ireland`s first parkrun a reality.

What a massive contribution these people have made to the general wellbeing of a few hundred runners and their families every Saturday morning. Parkrun is one of the best news stories I`ve heard for a while.

Wishing Malahide and Parkrun Ireland many happy returns.

Further information:

On parkruns worldwide and how to set up one on your turf.

Parkrun Malahide

Malahide Park Run


This gallery contains 1 photo.

November surprised with her glorious blue sky this morning. All the better, because I had actually managed to rouse myself for the Malahide Parkrun, and, perhaps, a personal best for this 5 km romp. There were quite a few Airtricity … Continue reading

Malahide Park Run

Last week was a stress-fest. Mostly good stress, it has to be said. The kind of stress that had me high on adrenaline and working, well, like a crazy red hen. That can very swiftly become the headless chicken run though, so I was glad of my running breaks for keeping my sanity.

So,I ran Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The focus for these runs is speed. Or, to be more accurate, shuffling a little faster. And well, not cutting the run short.

Meanwhile, in the past week, I`ve also tried and tried various things to fix my garmin, Apart from sending the damned thing away. No luck yet though. So my Runkeeper app is keeping tabs on things for now.

Runkeeper is a fiendishly temperamental beast.  She has a love/hate relationship with all the satellites around Ireland. She`ll often tell me I`m doing four minute miles. Which, actually, I don`t mind. Anything that brings out the Paula Radcliffe feeling in me is very welcome.

But, more often that not, when I`m panting after a five mile trot, she`ll tell me I didn`t run at all.

Maybe it`s not her fault of course. Maybe it`s the satellites themselves that have it in for us down here in the Emerald mire?  Why blame the woman after all? I`m pretty sure the satellites are male (Clue: swanning around having a great time). So maybe it`s their fault.

Anyway,I haven`t quite figured that out yet. But, you can be sure I`ll post it here when I do.

As it turned out, the satellites and Runkeeper aligned themselves perfectly for yesterday`s parkrun. Yes, I wore my headphones.(Sorry Roy and Runandjump) But not for the race`s duration. Just after a few minutes to check in with Runkeeper.

Yes, I could have let her shout out the time and distance for all in the vicinity but I chose instead to keep that info for myself. Not because I didn`t want to support my fellow runners, you understand. But I didn`t want them falling over themselves laughing when they`d hear Runkeeper`s voice emanating from the general direction of my arse, which is where my little hip bag thingy was located.

Anyway, I was pretty pleased when RK told me I was running 9 minute miles. Particularly because I felt pretty good. Wasn`t busting myself to do it. Could`ve run a tad faster maybe. Three quarters of the way through, and I was still doing 9 min miles. Kinda surprised I`d kept the pace.

At the end of the run, RK had put me at .01 seconds per mile faster than my previous park run. Whey! hey! Tiny improvement! Haha! Amn`t I easily pleased?

The best bit though was that I wasn`t as wrecked as the previous run. Maybe I`m getting a bit fitter then? Maybe my hormones were running in the right direction? Maybe my breakfast agreed with me?

Or maybe the satellites themselves were egging me on.

Who knows?

Anyway, I enjoyed it. And afterwards, instead of doing the daft Red Hen thing of running around, I walked around the park itself. Walking after a run prevents the peculiar backache that has emerged in the last year or so. And its always good to have an excuse to whip out the camera.

Today`s gallery then is Malahide Castle park in some of her pre Autumn glory. I figure, in the few weeks, the trees there will be aglow with Autumn colour.

Yes, for more pics and another go at parkrun, I`ll be back.