Ireland day 0093. Thursday 30 December 2021- Planning

Ireland day 0093. Thursday 30 December 2021- Planning
Today’s summary Woke up late and after a leisurely breakfast went shopping.   Afternoon spent cooking, cleaning and planning next adventures.   Val at work in evening and I did the Portmarnock coast walk
Today’s weather Rained quite hard most of the day.   No sun and no wind.   Very mild – about 13C
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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 this evening’s walk):
Portmarnock coast loop evening


By the time we got back to Ireland yesterday evening, we had already thought out a framework for our short term (“get a car and deal with driving licences”) and medium term (“Wicklow Way”) ambitions.   But what about the longer term?

Top of the list for consideration is deciding where we want to live next.   There are a number of options.  We could stay in Malahide – after all, it’s very comfortable, well connected and easy to get to.   Or we could decide to move on and explore somewhere new.   At the moment, we are tending slightly to the latter, because we came to Ireland in the spirit of adventure, and it would seem to be a capitulation to practicality if we were to stay put in a single place for a very long time.   To be honest, we think we might like to try living somewhere more remote  – you might call it a bit more “Irish” in fact – next.   But those are long term considerations that we will have to come back to in 2022.   Until the likely direction the pandemic is taking has become a bit clearer, and until we’ve got through the winter, we will stay put.   We’re also starting to make friends here – through the walking club and Val’s job – and it would be a shame to cut off social links just when they are getting going.

Putting the bigger picture to one side for a while, we do also want to start getting activity milestones in our diary for later in 2022, and possibly out to 2023.   For a start along those lines, as a keen long distance walker, I am slightly taken with the idea of finding a way of walking across Ireland – a coast to coast walk.   I’m also in protracted consultation with key stakeholders (i.e. Val) and I am pretty sure that she will very soon think it’s a good idea too.

The are many well known coast-to-coast walks in the UK (e.g. Wainwright’s C2C in northern England and the Southern Uplands Way in Scotland) and given the extensive network of paths over there, it’s actually not too difficult to plot your own.   But here in Ireland, it’s different.  Public rights of way are all but nonexistent, and there aren’t many well established long distance paths that you can link up.   Nevertheless, a couple of walkers have tried, and have published books about their exploits.

The first is Michael Fewer – a well known outdoorsman in Ireland – whose relatively short (290km / 180mi) route runs from Dalkey to Galway, making use of the Grand Canal towpath for much of its length.   The second is the indefatigable Paddy Dillon, who has walked and written about practically every footpath in the world and singlehandedly seems to keep Cicerone books in business.    His route is much longer – 622km / 387mi – and runs further south, from Dublin to Valentia Island.

It’s a bit of an indictment of the public interest in long distance walking here in Ireland that both books are out of print.   Fortunately I managed to get a copy of the Fewer book from Malahide Library, and Val bought me the Dillon book on eBay for Christmas.   I’ve also been in touch with Paddy Dillon and he told me the book was withdrawn because there was so little interest in it, and he himself hasn’t been back and checked the route for a number of years.   So lots more reading and research still to be done, and I strongly suspect it will be many months – maybe even 2023 – before we contemplate making a start.   Anyway, I always find planning and anticipation is a large part of the enjoyment of a long distance trek, so there’s lots to look forward to.

But turning to today, we needed to get back into the swing of daily life.   So after waking up surprisingly late this morning (though I was reading Dillon till after midnight), we splashed off through the rain to Supervalu – rapidly becoming my favourite shop in Ireland – and picked up provisions for the next few days.   The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent peeling potatoes (me) and doing glamorous things with them (Val) and very soon a rather delicious sausage casserole, à la Jamie Oliver, had been rustled up.

After a late lunch / early diner, Val rushed off back to work – she is a glutton for punishment – and I was left with instructions to do the hoovering and washing up.   I’m pleased to report that both of those tasks have been successfully dealt with so now I’m going to head off and brave the elements for my favourite evening walk – out to Portmarnock via the road, and back up the coast path.   I’ve noticed that since I came to Ireland I have been putting on weight – too much Guinness and Chateau Supervalu perhaps – and Christmas indulgence certainly hasn’t helped the situation.   So if long distance paths are to be explored or even contemplated, I need to start getting practical about shedding some of those excess pounds, rather than just thinking about it in theory and having another chocolate biscuit.   A bracing walk in the rain must surely be a great place to start!



Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

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St Sylvester’s Well in Old St, Malahide, which we came across this morning while we were out shopping.   It dates from 430AD though exactly what happened on that date isn’t clear.   It’s thought to be named after Pope St. Sylvester, who was Bishop of Rome in 313AD. There is a natural spring around here and the well was either constructed on or near it.   Until 1929 when mains water came to Malahide, it was the principal source of water for much of the village.   Nowadays it is bricked up and locked behind bars to prevent people from falling in.   An eel was put into it in 1890 to “purify” it though I doubt very much whether it is still there.   Today, patrons can find the well charmingly situated in the car park for the local dentists The well was restored in 2001 so it’s hard to tell how much of the structure is modern, and how much is more ancient.   Though there is a photo from 1948 where it looks pretty much the same as it does today
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I like to think that the sausage casserole we had for lunch was a joint effort, though Val actually did most of the work.   But I did peel the potatoes This was her reward for all the hard work.   Will be interesting to see how long they last
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Pouring with rain when I set off.   Much more like the Ireland I had expected, but which has actually been very rare I love it down by the coast.   Near the Martello tower tonight the tide was fully in and the waves were crashing spectacularly into the promenade wall.   Roaring surf – all only ten minutes from where we live.   I can’t get over it!
Mike or Paddy – which is it to be? Two alternative, and very different, routes across Ireland. Lots more preparation and analysis still to be done
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