Ireland day 0047. Sunday 14 November 2021- Castleknock

Ireland day 0047. Sunday 14 November 2021- Castleknock
Today’s summary Took the train from Malahide to Ashtown via Connolly Station then joined Dublin Walking Club for short walk up the Royal Canal to Castleknock and back to Ashtown via Castleknock and Phoenix parks
Today’s weather Dry and overcast all day.   No wind, no rain.   About 15C
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Today’s overview location
(the red cross in a circle shows where Val and I are at the moment)
Close-up location
(Click button below to download a GPX of today’s walk):
Ashtown and Castleknock

I realised this morning that I had been out with the Dublin Walking Club four times already – and it’s been a great way of meeting new people and finding feet in a new country.   And particularly while Val’s been away, it’s been a vital source of social contact.

So, not content with yesterday’s outing to Ireland’s hinterlands, I joined the group for a fifth time again this afternoon for a short “easy” walk in Dublin’s suburbs.   The excursion started at the remarkably un-Irish sounding Ashtown station, which is fortunately easily accessible by train from Malahide  – direct to Dublin Connelly then a quick hop over to the next platform for the waiting Maynooth diesel.

The walk itself wasn’t in any way challenging, but I found it very interesting – as well as extremely sociable.   I am getting worn out by all this chatting!   It followed the Royal Canal Way – which I first explored in its lower reaches last Sunday – then at Castleknock, a few km upstream, branched off left into Castleknock Park and then Phoenix Park.   The latter is a gigantic park – one of the largest in Europe – with lots of features of interest.   Including a zoo and herds of semi-wild fallow deer.   We didn’t get time to sample these delights today, as we just skirted a short section of the northern edge.   But it certainly demands a fuller exploration and probably a dedicated day to do it.   Certainly something to look forward to, perhaps in the run up to Christmas.

The Canal and Park have lots of interesting history to share, some of which is in the photo captions below.   But for now, a short social walk on a mild day when the autumn colours were at their best was a real delight.   We had finished by 3pm so I made my way back to Malahide and was here in under an hour.   So now it’s time for a cup of tea, then the rest of the chicken curry I made a couple of days ago for dinner.   And rather than rushing off to do any more evening exploring, I think I’m going to put my feet up for once and perhaps even – for the first time in almost seven weeks – get Netflix up and running on my iPad.   You can only resist the attractions of Tiger King and its ilk for so long and I think I am about to succumb.


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

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Approaching Royal Canal Lock no 10, just upstream from Ashtown station.   I am always surprised by how tall the gates are – the individual ascent in each lock seems to be about twice what I’m more used to seeing on UK canals Autumn colours finally beginning to make an appearance.   Here reflected in the canal
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Unorthodox bit of canal – in an aqueduct over the M50 motorway.   The only other canal aqueducts I’ve seen were the Lune aqueduct near Lancaster, and on the Kennet and Avon canal near Bath Mahonia isn’t really my favourite plant, but when it’s blooming profusely like this, it does bring a splash of colour to the Autumn gardenscape
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Many of Ireland’s canals are overgrown and non-navigable.   But the Royal Canal was restored as far as the Shannon at Termonberry, 145 km / 90 mi to the west in 2010.   Although it’s fully navigable, nowadays there doesn’t seem to be much leisure traffic on it though here at the 12th lock there are a number of semi-permanently moored houseboats.   Apparently they are relatively cheap and seen as practical alternative accommodation by those priced out of Dublin’s extortionately expensive conventional housing market.   A Greenway for walkers and cyclists runs along the towpath for its entire length from Dublin to the Shannon. In Phoenix Park – the largest enclosed urban park in any capital city in Europe.   We only just scratched the surface today so a much fuller exploration will be called for soon
The National Famine Way is a 170 km / 110 mi long distance path connecting Strokestown in the west of Ireland, to Dublin.  It follows the Canal most for most of its length.   The Way commemorates an event at the height of the famine in 1847 when 1,490 starving emigrants walked this route to Dublin to try and flee Ireland in search of a better life in Canada.   Almost one third of them – 500 people – died at sea before they could make it.   The original children’s shoes which feature in this monument were discarded and eventually recovered many years later by a farmer who donated them to the national famine museum.   Copies were cast in bronze and are dotted along the route of the trail, remembering children who made up two-thirds of the walkers in 1847.
An altogether tragic episode, but then again so was the whole Famine.
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