Autumn Glory

Outward Bound

Heading out onto the Irish Sea at Skerries Harbour

I snatched a piece of glory for myself on a long, slow, Sunday run by the coast. It was one of those very bright October mornings with the moon a finger-painted smudge in clear blue skies over the bobbing boats of Skerries harbour.

returning

Skerries Harbour

White sails dazzled in the clear, calm waters, as the members of Skerries Sailing Club busied themselves with their yachts.

And there were plenty of land lubbers about delighting in the crisp clear air or, like myself, taking pictures of the pretty scene…

Long shadow..

…and silly shadow selfies…

Oh, I could feel my old enemy, Procrastination, setting in. It was time to go.

The Skerries-Balbriggan route is very popular with runners and walkers. No doubt, it’s spectacular views have a lot to do with that. And of course, hugging the sea as it does, it is entirely flat. Always a plus for a plodder like me.

The downside though is that the footpath is very narrow, and its surface is dangerously rough. Three miles in, loose gravel got the better of me. I stumble. Almost saved myself. Then, horror of horrors, slam onto the ground.

It’s the classic little-kid fall, featuring two grazed knees, two skint hands and lost pride. I hobble to a nearby gateway to assess the damage and recover my composure. And, apart from a hole in my leggings (damn, my last good pair) I am good to go.

As it turned out, this wasn’t the worst of my pathway woes…

I had to step off it several times to let pedestrians by, always, of course, with an eye out for a car careening round a bend. And, worse still, there is a patch just outside Skerries where the path runs out entirely.  Possibly to encourage runners to up their tempo a tad.

It had that effect on me, anyway.

It would be really good to see this pathway widened and resurfaced. A lot of people enjoy it and, with a truckload of health problems festering in our overfed and depressed population, this investment would do the world of good for both Skerries, Balbriggan and their visitors.

But otherwise, the mild autumn temperatures and sea air made for perfect running conditions. And, even though I love to listen to talk radio during these long slow runs, I took frequent earphone breaks just to enjoy the sound of the sea and its accompanying birdlife.

Here and there I’d catch a glimpse of redshank, oystercatcher or snipe, while the gulls, announced their abundance with raucous cries.

Soon, I was heading into Balbriggan. A solitary red bricked chimney declared it’s industrial heritage. This was the ancient chimney of Smyths’ textile factory.

The town was built on tights, balbriggan being a term used to describe a fine knit textile which was once manufactured in that town and turned into hosiery and underwear.

Lighthouse

Balbriggan Harbour

 

Balbriggan hides its glories well.  One of the joys of running, of course, is that it tends to sniff out these charms, and so brighten even the most tedious of trots with sparkling gems.

The harbour glistened in the morning light. After the hideous railway perimeter and ugly jumble of buildings, it seems all the more surprising. And, a little further along there is a Martello tower, yes, another one to match the ones I’d seen in Dalkey,Sandymount, Donabate, Portrane, Loughshinney and in Skerries itself.

Winding back through the town, there is the interesting court house building, and a beautiful Carnegie library opposite.  But little else to delight the eye.

I was homeward bound at this point, however, looping back to Skerries and already looking forward to the return journey, trotting along between the railway line and the sea, and enjoying ever second of it.

I met more friendly runners on that route than any other I had encountered. I figured that was because they were as happy as I was, enjoying the scenery and the glorious autumn day.

Ten miles done. I barely felt them. Not, I hasten to add, because I am super fit, or even fit.

But, because some runs just are sheer joy.

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Phoenix Park Run

Lest you think I’ve been lounging around…

Well, I’ve been running. I enjoyed a nice long slow run on Sunday. Eight and three quarters of a mile. Yes, I know, I know, should have pushed for the whole nine miles but I had a weak moment when the sight of my car coincided with 8.75 miles of running and well, that was all I had left in me.

Crosstraining on Monday consisted of mowing the half acre(push mower, mind,not one of those fancy ride on yokes!) and wrestling the brambles out of the hedge. At times like that I am really glad I run. It just gives me the physical and psychogical will to keep going. Well, at least up until the 8.75 mile stage of anything.

Tuesday and I made myself-literally, bribed myself-into running three miles. Actual running running. As opposed to jogging running. My pace has become positively funereal so I am pushing this week for more speed.

That should be “speed” since I am infinitely more tortoise than hare.

And yesterday, I took Teen Girl off to the park for a trot. Not any old park. This is the Phoenix Park in Dublin. It’s a favourite haunt for sports’ enthusiasts of all sorts. But, really, for all sorts of people following all kinds of pursuits.

Áras an Uachtaráin, President Michael D. Higgins’ home, is here. And well worth dropping into the Phoenix Park visitor centre of a Saturday morning just to get a guided tour of that house.

And Farmleigh House, where the government hosts states people from other nations, is also on the grounds of the Park. Tours available every day, except when we have our international guests.

And here too, is the American ambassador’s bolthole, just a short trot from the American Embassy in the city.

It was late evening when we arrived. A little too late, unfortunately, to pop in on Michael D., the Ambassador or any international guests.  But perfect for an evening run. The place was nicely busy with cyclists, rollerskaters, strollers so you also get a sense of being part of a big, active group.

Sight of the Day has to go to the young family we spotted out for a stroll. A five year old, his parents and two double buggies. Yes, two, with twins in one and well, I couldn’t be sure if the second one was twins or siblings and Teen Girl was already embarrassed enough by my staring. So I just had to run on. And wonder at the marathon efforts it must take to manage that merry troupe.

The run? Well, just two miles of dashing around, stopping to take a pic and dashing off again. Since these efforts were cringe-worthy in Teen Girl’s book, she contented herself by doing her own thing.

Meanwhile, I’ve made a promise to return to the Park for a longer run. It’s the scene of a ten mile run in August and if I push beyond that 8.75 mile Sunday run, I just might make it.

 

 

Photowalk Dalkey

It`s been too long since my last photowalk here in Ireland. So yesterday I set off for Dalkey.

Ten miles south of Dublin City Centre, the best way to get to this pretty seaside village is on the DART. That’s Dublin Area Rapid Transit, Dublin`s light rail system. South of the city, the railway line is threaded along the very scenic curve of Dublin Bay, a wonderful prelude for the delights of Dalkey village.

Disembarking at Dalkey, I am just a short trot from the Main Street. It’s noon time Saturday and the place is barely awake. Perhaps the absence of people ensures that I notice the shop fronts and housefronts more readily: everything is so well maintained, neat and tidy, from luscious little gardens, to the litter free streets.

Goat`s Castle, Dalkey

Goat`s Castle, Dalkey

I ramble on past one of Dalkey`s seven castles. This one is on the main street. It bills itself a heritage centre “where living history meets 21st century technology” but I am in full on ramble mode, so I keep moving.

Archbold`s Castle Dalkey

Archbold`s Castle Dalkey

On past Archbold`s Castle then. Can you see the machiolation about the front door? It;`s the extra piece of masonry that juts out above the entrance. That’s for dumping down stones, debris, oil or other rubbish on those attempting entry to the castle. I ponder what I’d dump on some unwelcome guests to the Chook House and move on with what can only be describes as an evil smirk.

Bullock Castle

Bullock Castle

Out past Bullock Castle then, to Bullock Harbour. There I catch a glimpse of Poolbeg lighthouse and the twin chimneys of Ringsend way off in the distance. God bless your eyesight if you can spot them in this pic!

Ringsend from Dalkey

The excited screech of herring gulls draws my attention and soon, like a scene from Hitchcock`s Birds they are all about the place fighting over some fishy offerings amid the rocks.

Gulls, Bullock Harbour

Gulls, Bullock Harbour

And rocks abound in Dalkey. The whole place hewn out of steep granite hillsides. There was a granite quarry there in the early 19th century which supplied granite for the building of Dun Laoghaire harbour and also the South Bull Wall.

Rocks Bullock Harbour

Rocks Bullock Harbour

Dalkey`s harbours too, were important in their own right back from the 14th to the 17th century. The Liffey had become silted up so Dublin Port became inaccessible, whereas Dalkey Sound had deeper waters.

Fishing Boats, Coliemore Harbour

Fishing Boats, Coliemore Harbour

A quick trot around then to Coliemore Harbour. Coliemore Harbour bills itself as one of the smallest harbours in Ireland. It too was built from Dalkey granite and is the point of departure for boats heading out to Dalkey Island.

Coliemore Harbour

Coliemore Harbour

From here, I got a better view of the Island. It is home to the remains of St Begnet`s church and it also has a Martello tower at one end. Fifty such towers were built by the British in the early 19th century to provide defence against an anticipated invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte. Luckily for us, it seems Napoleon was ignorant to the delights of Dalkey however.

But many were not.

Enjoying seaviews

Enjoying seaviews

All along the coastline, there are rows of Regency and Victorian houses, another legacy from British times. And, if the area, with its warm microclimate, abundance of the spiky Cordylion and steep hillsides reminded me of the French Riviera, the street names certainly evoke the Mediterranean with street names such as Sorrento, Vico and Nerano.

Railway Line from Dalkey to Killiney

Further on out towards Killiney beach, I am heartened my the sight, and distinctive licquorishy smell, of furze. (Or gorse, depending on where you’re from.) The railway line had been cut into the steep hillside there in a singular feat of engineering carried out by Brunell in 1855.

Seismic testing

While down on White Rock beach there`s every chance I’ll catch a glimpse of a dolphin leaping. The views across to Bray Head are reward enough for my rambling but suddenly, and quite literally out of the blue, a single dolphin leaps into view. He leaps several times but all too fast for my camera.

What a thrill it is though, to spot these creatures in Irish waters.

I am ready, then, to ramble back along Ireland`s “Bay of Naples” …

View form the Vico Road

View form the Vico Road

… back along the Vico Road and past the quiet rows of Victorian terraces to the village itself.

The Gutter Bookshop

The Gutter Bookshop

Heading back towards the DART station, I cannot resist the tug of a newly opened bookshop. It’s a little beauty with blue washed walls, white bookshelves, bunting and an atmosphere conducive to some very productive browsing.

But my train is on it’s way, and time is short.

Besides, I haven’t seen all there is to see in Dalkey. There’s a castle to explore, a 13th century graveyard to visit, and Dalkey Head to be climbed.

And, if one can believe everything on facebook, the Dalkey Book Festival is set to run in June this year! A perfect time for a return trip.

So yes, I’ll be back!

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