A Tale of Two Chimneys

Ringsend Chimneys from Blackrock

View of Ringsend from Blackrock

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.

Seafront Sandymount

Seafront at Sandymount, Dublin

Sandymount Promenade

Promenade, Sandymount

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.

Sandymount beach

Sandymount Beach

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.

Sandymount tower

Sandymount Martello Tower

Ringsend from Sandymount

Poolbeg Chimneys from Sandymount

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.

Poppies and chimneys

Yeah, I know poppies are passé, but I cannot resist.

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.


View of Sandymount from Irishtown

Wicklow Mountains from Irishtown Park

Soon, I had wound around Sandymount bay, and, while the chimneys were out of sight, I had great views of the Wicklow mountains…


View of Sandymount from Sean Moore park

…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.

Sean Moore park


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

Stena heading out of Dublin Port

Ferries plough the Irish Sea several times a day between Dublin and Holyhead, Wales


Poolbeg Lighthouse, Half Moon Water Polo and Swimming Club to the fore.

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?

Half Moon Bathing

At the Half Moon Swimming and Water Polo Club, Poolbeg

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.

Chimneys and Dublin Port

Ringsend from the South Bull Wall

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.

Journal.ie article and Poll: Should the Poolbeg chimneys be demolished?

boards.ie forum: discussion on Poolbeg chimneys

Raze or Praise? Article from The Irish Times

Skerries Run with the Mad Mother


Ominous skies 2

Skerries Harbour with Ominous Clouds

Our Thursday evening run was greeted with ominous skies in Skerries. Our? Yes, Teen Girl came too. Since she’s started running with the athletic club a few months our own runs together have been a little less frequent, so I grab them any chance I get.

Of course, by some wretched synchronicity, the storm clouds assembled, just as we rocked up at Skerries harbour. Roy might tell you, it’s not training unless it’s raining, but, given the choice, I’d rather sit a good drenching out, thank you very much, and so I retreated to the comfort of my car.

But Teen Girl was having none of it.

Ever noticed how teenagers always want the opposite to whatever you want? It stems from the exact same hormone that disagrees with everything their parents say, is appalled with everything their parents wear and generally disgusted by our mere presence.

Aw, come on. You’re the one who wanted to run

Okay, okay, I just didn’t want you to get wet.

It upsets me, on occasion, to hear how easily a lie can trip off my tongue. But, as skills go, it has its uses. Just not on this particular occasion.

And so, off we set.

Skerries is the grandest spot for a run, with lots of scenic routes available.  We opted for a short, fast coastal trot. It took us winding along coast and through the holiday crowds, out past the playground and on towards Loughshinny.

With the tide well in and lighter skies ahead, the three islands, Colt, Shenick and St Patrick ( gosh, that fellow got about, didn’t he?) glowed emerald green in the silvery waters. And, all about us, holiday makers made the most of the dying moments of the day.

We rambled on. They take their running seriously in Skerries. We were overtaken by quite a few earnest young men, who, if their t-shirts were anything to go by, were in serious half marathon and marathon training mode.

Meanwhile, I am aiming to speed up. I took great heart on Tuesday when my Killer Interval sessions saw the Garmin dip below 5 to show that I can possibly run one kilometer in five minutes. If I can sustain that pace, of course.

And, on Thursday night, I very nearly did. It took me 5.05 minutes to run 1 km. Oh, you may scoff, but that’s just smokin’ hot in Red Hen territory. I didn’t order this body you know, so I’m pretty chuffed if I can defy its design and get these lil`ol`legs to fire up at that speed.

Maybe a 5km park run at 26 minutes may be more than a dream after all? Not saying it’s going to happen tomorrow. I’m far too short of the goal to reach it in such a short time.

But it’s getting closer.

Conditions for that speed were very favourable. With a good tail wind and a very flat promenade, I was sailing along. Parkrun is grass and hills and mud and…

Oh, and rain. Yeah, rain helps.

As I was coming down the home strait, that ominous cloud was ready to split the goods. And that threat of rain just made me go all the faster. Never mind that I was soaked in sweat. This was going to be a downpour and I was getting to dry land/the car before it arrived.

Teen Girl was waayy behind me. (Who wants to be seen with their mad mother anyway?) and got soaked in the ensuing monsoon downpour.

Must be maddening, all the same, to have a super speedy and dry mother who keeps taking pictures of the same old scene….

Skerries Harbour

Skerries Harbour Sun’s Out Again


Gran Canaria

Room with a view

Pretty only gets you so far.

Whitewashed walls, tumbling flowers and blue skies guarantee a nice shot but Gran Canaria has a dark side which I couldn’t avoid.

Land Ahoy

For a start, I wondered why the Spanish invaders snatched it off the original settlers, the ones who had so correctly named it Land of the Brave.

The Spanish on conquering the islands in the late 15th century, renamed it Land of the Dogs~ Las Canarias.

A quick tour around the island would show that it is a mass of volcanic rock and a pretty barren one at that. Living here would be tough unless they put good systems in place for the care and irrigation of plants.
Market Garden

Which of course, they duly did. I hadn’t seen plants grown in shade tents before. There is a swathe of shade tents behind the vans in the photo though you’ll probably just have to take my word for that.

But why go to all that effort for such a difficult piece of terrain? As the real estate agent would tell us, location, location, location.

Straddled between various trade routes from and around Africa, and later on towards the New World, merchants and traders made their fortunes here from the 15th century onwards. And even Columbus dropped into Las Palmas on his way to discover the New World.

As part of it’s dark heart, Las Canarias was also a handling centre for the slave trade, in less enlightened times. No doubt the native goanches, as they were known by the Spaniards, along with human cargo from Africa saw the Canary Islands as a place of great suffering for them.

But the Spanish brought prettiness too, in the form of their language, food, culture and architecture.

Canarian Houses

And they even managed to make the most of that volcanic rock by incorporating it into the building of their homes. You’ll see such rock scattered all along the flat roofs of houses. I am not sure why, however. A quick google suggests its for keeping the houses cool but is that right?
Lava rock

Time rolled on, and with changes in world demand for the supply of various goods, the Canary Islanders hit on hard times over the 20th century. In a theme common to us Irish, they headed off to other countries to seek their fortune, principally Venezuala and Cuba.

But the islands fortunes were to change once more. And once more because of its location.

In the 1980s, the advent of cheap flights from Europe meant more people could afford to travel abroad and were keen to explore beyond Spain’s Costa Brava. The fortunes of the Canary Islands were on the rise again.

And so too were its apartment buildings. Whole resorts were carved into the volcanic rock.
Hill Run

Puerto Rico in Gran Canaria is an example of this. There is very little here to tell you that you are on Spanish soil.

La Playa

And everything that says you’re probably from East London on your two weeks off to tan all your tatoos and drink as much beer and eat as many bacon butties as you can stomach. So the Lord Byron pub is about as poetic as it gets, and when that’s done you can head over to Fryer Tucks.

Puerto Rico

You won’t find museums and art galleries here. Or any clue about the island’s past. Instead, at the heart of the town is a mini-golf park, a very tacky shopping centre and a McDonald’s.


Oh, you’ll find the rare daft tourist willing to do hill repeats in the heat of the evening.
La Playa

But, generally speaking, the people have come here to lie. All. Day. Long. On the beach or..

Sun bathers

…beside the resort pool. Oh, and if they’re not lying there, they leave their towels on the loungers see? Just so you won’t take their spot…

But each to their own. I lay for an hour and had enough. Laying-despite my moniker-just isn’t my thing.

Hill Run

Obviously I am missing out on something. Everybody else was happy just to lay there and tan. And the Canary Islanders know there are big bucks in laying tourists and so they continue to build onwards and upwards.

I couldn’t help but wonder how the Islands are managing to cope with the water demand for both the building and the catering for the tourists, especially in such barren terrain.

Even to the point of sustaining a golf course in the middle of it all.

Golf Course

But the Canary Islands has its roots in survival at any price. Who can blame them? Surrounded by all that rock they know they are pitched between exploiting all that is there now, and having a better strategy to see them through the future.

Yes, it’s all very pretty. But at what price?

Driving Back Through Time

I swear I am not a car person and yet, the sight of a line of vintage automobiles  was enough to set my heart racing. I simply had to find out where they were coming from.

And that’s how I ended up at the North East Vintage Car show in Mosney, Co. Meath on Sunday.

Despite the eye-catching exodus, there were still plenty of old cars on view.  And I basked in the wave of nostalagia that swiftly overwhelmed me as I wandered among the Morris Minors, Vauxwagens and Anglias.

Overhead the tannoy was belting out “She loves you, ya, ya, ya” as the crowds milled around in little clutches, chatting with other car enthusiasts or picnicking on rugs beside their vintage pride and joy.

Morris Minor

Morris Minor

I love the wooden trim on these old Morris Minors. Probably late 1960s. And definitely chic. Gotta love those wing mirrors. Makes me feel right back there at seven years of age sitting high up in the driver’s seat, little fists around the steering wheel, pretending to drive.



Mind you, when I was peering into this old Anglia, I wondered how on earth our family of eight squished into such a little space for our regular Sunday outings.

Rear View Anglia

Rear View Anglia

Of course, I would have known by then that there was a hierachy in car seating arrangements, just as there was in everything else.

Dad drove. Dads invariably drove back then, the better to leave the mother free to hold the baby in the front seat.

The second youngest in the family got to ride up front with baby, Mother and Dad. So he must have sat on the handbrake somehow. But I also have a clear memory of him also occupying the shelf underneath the rear window of either our Volkswagen or Morris Minor and amusing himself by running his finger along the condensation on the window.

And, with eight passengers in the car, there was always a lot of condensation.

The older two siblings had the best position in the passenger seat, beside the rear doors. And so, my sister and I were squished in the middle.

Of course, such overcrowding invariably led to rows.

It didn’t help that one brother couldn’t resist singing at the least provocation. Much to the chagrin of our older, more reserved brother.

Some things haven’t changed. One still sings, the other is more dutiful.

Likewise, I am sure the fact of my being squished in the middle of the Anglia trained me for life in being a pacifist. I neither sang nor complained but learned instead how to sleep in the most uncomfortable of positions. A skill and a cop-out which serves me well to this day.

This skill also proved especially useful when our mother, overwhelmed by yet another drive by the bishops of the day, took it upon herself to induct us all again in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. The predictable rise and fall of the Hail Marys and Our Fathers had a somnonbulent effect at the best of times. There was no reason to stay awake.

Perhaps the prayers were intended though, for a safe journey or even a very pleasant picnic.In which case, it was very understandable that Mother took to prayer because both events were, in themselves minor miracles.

In the 1960s Ireland had more road deaths per capita than ever before or since. Much though I love the look of the stand alone headlights, or simple indicators, they were inadequate on bad country roads which were already dealing with a steady increase in traffic.



And yet, the cars of the past, with all that polished chrome and sleek radiator grilles, seem far more attractive to my eye than those of today.

Paintings for the vintage car enthusiast

Paintings for the vintage car enthusiast

It’s no wonder that some talented folk are simply itching to paint them.

Cars and picnics went hand in hand, of course, particularly in summer. We were invariably heading for the beach then, in any case. After almost two hours in the car, and a quick baptism in the foaming Atlantic, we were ready for the picnic which Mother miraculously conjured up, along with the picnic rug, cups, cutlery and other picnic paraphenalia.

Rear View Anglia

Rear View Anglia

Red lemonade and ham sandwiches were the staples of this feast, but, in addition there was tea or cocoa from thermos flasks and slabs of porter cake to quench whatever appetites we had left.  The sea air made everything seem all the more exotic and delicious.

We travelled all over in those cars, winding our way along the wild west coast of Clare and further along the Kerry peninsulas and at her first glimpse of sea Mother would invariably start singing

“The sea oh the sea, grá gheal mo chroí, long may it lie between England and me. `Tis a sure guarantee that some day we’ll be free. Thank God we’re surrounded by water”

I hasten to add that Mother was not an ardent nationalist. Just a landlubber who was thrilled at the sight of the wild Atlantic, much as I am today.



Evocative as they are of all those childhood pleasures, it’s little wonder that the 1960s cars are my favourite.

Morris Minor

Morris Minor

…with the Morris Minors taking second place to the Anglia in my hit list of preferences.

Ford Model t 1917

Ford Model t 1917

But, although a little before my time, I loved this Ford Model T too. Oh, I can just see it ferrying some of my heroines up to Downton Abbey.

1917 Ford The Doctor`s Coupe

1917 Ford The Doctor`s Coupe

Or whisking the local physician to his housebound patients.

Earlier Austin


And this Austin certainly has a lot of class about it too.AustinNow, in case you’re wondering, I did not use my vintage car perambulations as an excuse to slack off from my Juneathon duties. A six mile run earlier in the day, kept my Juneathon schedule up to date on the jogging front. And yesterday, I fulfilled my cross training duty with a little light yoga.

Admittedly, missing yesterday’s post deadline though, makes me a slacker on the blog post front.

I can only hope that this drive back through time will buy me a little forgiveness.