Ireland day 0068. Sunday 05 December 2021- Poolbeg

Ireland day 0068. Sunday 05 December 2021- Poolbeg
Today’s summary Train to Connolly station then Dart to Lansdown Road.   Walked to end of the Poolbeg breakwater and back with the DWC.   Reversed the journey back to Malahide
Today’s weather Brilliantly clear with blue skies almost all day.   Light wind out on the breakwater.   Cool, about 6C
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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):
Poolbeg DWC

As the ferry bringing us to Ireland all those weeks ago began to pull into Dublin harbour, I noticed out on the port-side a long breakwater stretching out into the sea, seemingly nudging us towards the docks.   I noticed a few people hanging about on the top of the wall and idly wondered if it was actually open to the public, and perhaps even possible to walk to the lighthouse at the end.   After the first few weeks here in Ireland, and my discovery that if there is ever a question about public access to land, the answer was generally “no”, I concluded that the harbour wall was most likely closed, and thought no more about it.

Today I was delighted to discover that I was wrong.

I had decided to go out with the Dublin Walking Club again while Val was preparing for, and then out at, work.   I signed up for today’s walk which was simply called “Poolbeg”, so I didn’t really know what to expect.   The instructions were to “meet at Sandymount church” which didn’t offer many clues – especially when I discovered that there were no fewer than four churches in Sandymount.   Eventually I found the right one – it was relatively obvious, actually, as it was the one nearest to the DART rail station.

It was a bright and sunny when we set off (and it stayed that way all day) so I had high expectations of a good day out.   And indeed it was!   Although I might not have had such high expectations if I’d known that the start of our route took us past (in order): a gasworks, a sewage treatment plant, a disused coal fired power station and a waste incinerator.   But we strode on past these industrial intrusions, actually barely noticing them because the view to the south over the bay towards Dun Laoghaire and, beyond, the Dublin Mountains, was so stunning.   Having said that, the close up view of the spectacular Poolbeg chimneys connected to the old coal fired Pigeon house power station was hard to ignore.

Having finished our tour of Dublin’s industrial hinterland, we arrived at the landfall of the harbour breakwater.  To my delight, I realised that the wall was indeed open, and that we were going to walk to the lighthouse at the end.   It was a popular spot on a sunny December Sunday, and families and children were out in force enjoying a saunter along its cobbled surface.

The breakwater – more properly known as the South Bull Wall – was built in 1795 and for many years it was longest sea wall in the world.   Even to day it is still one of the longest in Europe.   It, along with the North Bull Wall on the opposite bank, were designed to stop silt from blocking the Liffey estuary and preventing ships from entering the port.   They seem to have been largely successful as huge beaches of sand have built up behind them – Bull island to the north, and the huge tidal mudflats heading over to Dun Laoghaire in the south.   Attentive readers of this blog will probably recall that Captain Bligh (of “Mutiny on the Bounty” notoriety) was involved in their design.

We headed out along the wall, virtuously bypassing the pop up coffee shop on the shore, and walked the full 4km / 2½mi to the lighthouse at the end.   It’s a colourful spot – with the bright red lighthouse set against the limpid blue sky and the impressive Banksy-esque murals on the walls.   Normally, there are people fishing off the end, but not today – perhaps because the best fishing spot was in the shade and catching the full force of a chilly wind.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable and indeed exciting walk, the only downside being that almost by definition it’s hard to make a circular route out of a walk along a breakwater.   So we turned on our heels and returned the way we had come, skirting past the industry and enjoying basking in the bright sun reflecting on the giant mudflats which were emerging as the waters receded with this evening’s particularly low tide.

So now I’m back in the flat and realising I suppose that I need to start thinking about preparing more food.   Though I do note that Val managed to find time to rustle up a delicious-looking chicken casserole while I was away, so hopefully all I’ll have to add is some rice and a few chocolate biscuits to finish it off.

But before I go, I feel I do need to give you a few clues about the image in the banner at the top of this blog.   The literary among you will have no problems in recognising who it is – but only eagle eyed might have noticed that three letters: Y-ES are highlighted in red on his hat.   I had to ask one of my fellow walkers what the significance was, and he simply referred me to the final words of that famous unpunctuated monologue where Molly Bloom declares:
and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes“.

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

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Heading down the coast from Sandymount to the Poolbeg industrial complex by Dublin Port.   Features a disused coal fired power station, a gas works, waste incinerator and sewage works.   Nice! (although actually they are surprisingly unobtrusive when you walk past) The “iconic” chimneys of the Poolbeg power station, about which so much has been written
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Approaching the end of the breakwater, with an ancient winch in the foreground and the Howth peninsula on the skyline Lots of graffiti which borders on being artwork adorn the lighthouse buildings at the end
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Tonight’s super-low tide was already starting to unveil vast shorelines, even with two hours still left before the tide turned Not a view you want to linger over, crossing the rail line heading south from Dublin to Wicklow and beyond
It was all primary colours down at the lighthouse this afternoon
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