Ireland day 0202. Monday 18 April 2022- Shorts!

Ireland day 0202. Monday 18 April 2022- Shorts!
Today’s summary Val at work.   I headed out to the west of Malahide to explore the green spaces between here and Swords.   Then returned via the coast and on down to the station to watch the steam train passing through in the evening
Today’s weather Sunshine and showers.   Light westerly breeze.   About 10C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of my route)
Close-up location
(The green line shows where I walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Malahide west in showers
Commentary

A ripple of excitement flooded through Malahide this morning.   Well it did through the bit of Malahide that was in our living room, at any rate.   We were enjoying a cup of coffee before Val went in to work for her afternoon shift, when we heard a curious whistle coming from the direction of the railway station.   My finely-developed senses immediately realised it could only mean one thing – a steam locomotive.

Of course, as readers will know, I’m not a trainspotter but, like most people, I can recognise the characteristic sound of a V class 4-4-0 compound steam engine when I hear one.   And that indeed was what was happening in Malahide this morning – our very own steam train was paying a visit, hauled by the world renowned “Merlin” locomotive, no. 85.   A bit of googling quickly revealed that today’s Steam Special was running from Dublin Connolly up to Drogheda, with a stop in Skerries, then returning back the same way later in the afternoon. It was an Easter Eggspress, to be precise, organised by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

You probably already know, but it’s important to be reminded anyway, that Merlin is one of only two surviving operational compound steam engines in the whole of the British Isles.   Merlin has three cylinders – one high pressure and two low pressure ones, a bit like the steam turbines in a nuclear power station.   It was built in 1932 in Manchester and was primarily used on the Dublin-Belfast mainline until about 1963 when the Irish equivalent of the Beeching axe fell on the Irish railways, both north and south.

Today, Merlin is owned by the Ulster Folk Museum in Northern Ireland, but is on loan to Railway Preservation Society of Ireland at the moment.   By the way, as far as I can tell, there are no preserved steam railways in Ireland like there are in the UK- rather the RPSI prefers to run steam special outings on mainline routes.   Of course, given that Merlin would be returning through Malahide in the evening, I had to arrange my day so I would be able to get a good view of it as it headed back to Dublin.   You can see the results in the photos below.   Sadly an inconveniently placed passenger on the platform made photography a bit difficult – and the loco came through tender first so it wasn’t looking its most photogenic anyway.   But nevertheless it was a memorable event.

Now – did I mention that I went on a bit of a walk, too?   More to the point, have you noticed anything special from the banner image at the top of the blog?   Well here’s a hint.  Think shorts and legs and you will get the idea.   As it is now April, notwithstanding the cool weather and occasional downpours, I have decided that as we are well into the official short-wearing season, the legs had to be exposed today, for the first time since last October.   I didn’t attract too many strange looks, though as the rain periodically and icily lashed down, I did wonder if perhaps my decision had been a bit premature.

Today my walk took me on a western exploration of the Malahide-to-Swords hinterlands, discovering a number of pleasant new green spaces – eminently walkable – and a profusion of spring flowers.   It was an enjoyable sojourn, made perfect by the coincidence of my arrival back in Malahide with the transit of Merlin through the station.   What could possibly beat a day so perfect as this?

 

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Wallflowers in bloom – as they have been pretty much all winter – near the Yellow Walls Road We have a lot to thank the brassicas for.   Not only do they provide us with such delicacies as sprouts, turnips and rapeseed oil, they also furnish us with a a wide variety of interesting and ornamental plants.   The wallflower in the previous picture is one example, as is the yellow flowered ornamental cabbage in this shot.   I’ve seen their brightly coloured foliage before, but never seen one in flower like this.
This housing estate to the west of Malahide won the “Best Residential Estate” award in 1979.   Curiously the award was donated by the Bord na Móna – the “Peat Board”, a semi-state owned body mired in some controversy at the moment as its principal objective has been the commercial exploitation of Ireland’s peat bogs, mostly for fuel production and power generation.   It announced its intention to move into more sustainable businesses in 2015. Down by the estuary, spring flowers seem to be popping up everywhere
Blackthorn in one of the hedgerows adjoining the Gainsborough estate just outside Swords This is the “sunshine” bit of our “sunshine and showers” day today
Merlin!
Need I say more?
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 9675 m
Max elevation: 17 m
Min elevation: -1 m
Total climbing: 116 m
Total descent: -117 m
Total time: 02:13:13
Download file: Western Wander corrected.gpx

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