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


Clonfert Cathedral

St Brendan's Cathedral
On a recent sojourn in the Boglands, I detoured to this wonderful little church just a short distance from the mighty Shannon.

The townland was Clonfert, three miles west of Banagher and just inside the Galway county boundary. Once the centre of a monastic settlement of some three thousand monks, nowadays it’s a sleepy little backwater.

The monastic settlement was founded by St Brendan in 577AD. A much-travelled fellow and no stranger to the high seas, some people believe he was the first mariner to traverse the Atlantic to America’s shores.

Nothing remains of St Brendan’s settlement now, though a gravestone marks was is believed to be his burial place in the church grounds.

St Brendans grave

Centuries later, in 1167, the Cistercian abbot, Petrus O Mórdha, built the stone church which is now known as Clonfert Cathedral.

Front view clonfert cathedral doorway

The Romanesque doorway is the most outstanding feature of this church and the main reason for my detour.

Looking up from Clonfert Cathedral doorway

Made largely sandstone, it is now in an extremely delicate state. There have been some efforts made to address that, in recent years, but, encrusted as it is with lichen, and braving all the elements, I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps a perspex enclosure of some sort might be in order to help preserve this wonderful structure.

Left of doorway

The carvings depict all manner of creatures, including cats, and other creatures reminiscent of some Polynesian totem pole carvings.



Right of Doorway Clonfert


Mermaid Clonfert Doorway

The limestone jamb was a later addition to the seven sandstone orders.

In reference, most likely, to Brendan`s sea voyages, it included a carving of a mermaid at it’s apex who didn’t seem in the least bit pertubed to be some forty miles away from the sea.

This more modern arch has not suffered as poor a fate as its sandstone neighbours but I puzzled over the carvings at eyelevel on either side of the doorway.

Could this shamrock-bearing person be St. Patrick, perhaps?

St Patrick St Brendans Cathedral

And is this St. Brendan?

St Brendan maybe

One of the joys of history lies in teasing out such puzzles.

The church itself, once a bastion of Catholicism, has been in Protestant hands since the time of the Reformation. And the graveyard displays the best aspects of ecumenism with Catholics and Protestants, tenants and landlords buried side by side.
Seymour graveCorcoran grave


And yes, that is a fallen tombstone you see there.

Inclement weather in recent times included a mini cyclone which hit Clonfert with full force. Indeed, rambling around the graveyard, it appears as if a dervish has been let loose on the place as several gravestones had been felled, along with trees, and a considerable chunk of wall.

Clonfert 036

Which brought home to me once again, how delicate a structure the Romanesque doorway is and how exposed it is to the ravages of time, climate and, indeed, curious visitors like myself.

The Heritage Council have surveyed it and made recommendations for it’s upkeep. Here’s hoping some decent funding follows as an investment in such treasures from our past will be a wonderful investment for our future generations.