Ireland day 0081. Saturday 18 December 2021- StAnnes

Ireland day 0081. Saturday 18 December 2021- StAnnes
Today’s summary Took the DART to Raheny.   Walked from there to Bull Island then down the beach to the Bull Wall breakwater and back to the station via St Anne’s park
Today’s weather A bit grey and overcast at first, but brilliant bright sunshine all afternoon.  No wind or rain.  About 9C
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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 our walk this afternoon):
Bull Island St Annes

We got up this morning fully intending to pick up where we left off a couple of weeks ago, and head down south of Dublin to complete a clifftop walk from Greystones to Bray.   The last time we had considered this route, Barra intervened so we hastily rearranged our plans.   Today, however, with an excellent weather forecast, seemed like a much better bet.  But I made the mistake of looking at the news first thing when I got up and with the whole world seemingly getting its collective knickers in a twist about Covid (again) we decided 2 hours each way on a busy train immediately before Christmas probably wasn’t a good idea.   So we put our thinking caps on, and searched for somewhere a bit closer to home.

After some careful scrutiny of the map, we decided a short train journey would be OK, so we headed south on the DART train a couple of stops to Raheny – about half way between here and Dublin.  We planned to go and explore a bit more of Bull Island and then check out the renowned St Anne’s Park on the way back to the station.   It turned out to be a good decision, especially as Val hadn’t been with me the last time I had cycled down to Bull Island.

Although the weather was cool and grey when we set off, by the time we had walked down to the beach on Bull Island, the sun was beginning to come out.   And after we had sploshed a further 3km / 2mi south along the shoreline to the Bull Wall, we were in full, bright, sunshine.  And despite it being only three days to midwinter, there was actually a bit of warmth in it – and lots of Vitamin D.

I’ve already gone on at great length about the history of the Wall so I won’t repeat it in detail here.   Suffice to say it was finished in 1825 and was based on a proposal originally made by Captain William Bligh, of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame.   Its purpose, along with the South Wall leading to Poolbeg Lighthouse, was to stop silting up of the Liffey estuary – which it did successfully.   The sediment which would have clogged the estuary was instead deposited behind the Wall and formed Bull Island.

After walking down to the end to inspect the statue, we stopped near one of the many bathing huts along the wall to watch the hardy swimmers out in the Liffey, and have our lunch.   The warmth was so seductive that the few minutes we had intended to stop there unaccountably became an hour, and the shadows were beginning to lengthen by the time we eventually upped-sticks and headed for the shore.   By the way, despite the sunshine and the many changing areas (which were actually very well maintained and clean, despite the off-putting signs on the walls) I still didn’t feel even remotely inclined to get in.

Once over the wooden bridge connecting the breakwater to the shore, we turned right and walked along the promenade through Dollymount to reach St Anne’s Park.   This is Dublin’s second largest park and was “assembled” by the Guinness family in 1835.   (By the way I have no idea what “assembled” actually means – though that was how the process of creating it was described on the information board near the entrance).   Dublin Council bought it in 1939 and now it is a magnificent public amenity.

Today as we passed through, a Christmas market was in full swing.   It seemed to be a bit better than the others we have visited recently because in addition to the usual honey, knitwear and soap, there were stalls selling exotic fruit and vegetables, and local cheeses too.   The park is particularly famous for its rose garden and several specimens were in full bloom today – further substantiating my theory that roses in this part of maritime Ireland might actually flower all year.

By this time, evening was drawing in so we made our way back to Raheny station and the DART home again.   All in all, a very enjoyable day out, and not a virus particle to be seen (well not without an electron microscope anyway).


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

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The original Monterey Cypress here at the landward side of the causeway to Bull Island had to be removed in 2015 for safety reasons.  The remaining stump has been carved into an impressive sculpture, featuring the fish, animals and birds that can be found on the Island. They almost look like they are talking to you
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At the western end of the Bull Wall, with the Réalt na Mara (‘Our Lady, Star of the Sea’) statue, completed in 1972, at the end Mad people were out in abundance today
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Looking south through the wooden Bull Bridge, which connects the western end of the Wall to the mainland, towards the Poolbeg power station on the far side of the Liffey Entrance to St Anne’s Park.   A really nice spot, with an abundance of evergreen Holm Oak trees, making it feel a bit like summer, before Autumn pulls the leaves of the trees
At the end of the Wall, checking out Our Lady.   Her halo is illuminated at night and is apparently visible from all over Dublin harbour.   The three pillars are 20m / 70ft high and are made of concrete with crushed Connemara marble, which have an uncanny resemblance to solid granite
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