Ireland day 0293. Monday 18 July 2022- Mystery!

Ireland day 0293. Monday 18 July 2022- Mystery!
Today’s summary Val was at work so after finishing off a few chores in the morning I walked down to Portmarnock pool for a swim then walk back along the beach.  Took the opportunity to read a highly topical book while sitting in the sun on the shore overlooking Ireland’s Eye.   Said to be the warmest day in Ireland for over 100 years
Today’s weather Sunny and bright in the morning, more overcast in the afternoon with a couple of light showers.   Southerly breeze.   About 26C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of my route)
Close-up location
(The green line shows where I walked)
(Click top button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected
Click bottom button to download TCX of today’s swim):
Pormarnock pool and back by the beach
Pormarnock pool 40 lengths

When we visited Ireland’s Eye a couple of days ago, the commentary on the boat’s tannoy on the way across had been droning on about an intriguing mystery that surrounded the island.   But I wasn’t really concentrating – as I was far more excited by the prospect of setting foot on this mystical place.   So I didn’t really take any notice of what was being said.   But when I mentioned our recent visit to one of the members of the Walking Club, they immediately said “but you must have heard about the mystery of Ireland’s Eye”?   I had to admit that apart from the half-heard commentary from the tannoy’s intonations, I hadn’t.

I soon learned however that an incident on the island back in September 1852 rocked Ireland, and that for a while the whole country, it seems, was gripped by intrigue around the exact sequence of events on that island on the tragic afternoon of September the 6th.

It’s quite a convoluted story but in a nutshell, Sarah Maria Louisa Kirwan (known as Maria) was visiting the island that day with her husband William.   They allegedly became separated during the afternoon, with Maria going off to find a spot to go swimming and William doing some sketching.   When the boat came to collect them at the end of the afternoon, William was alone and Maria was nowhere to be seen.   After a search of the island, her body was found by a rocky cove – dead, presumed drowned.

A perfunctory inquest was held the next day and the verdict of death by drowning was returned – despite some puzzling and inconsistent features – like extensive bruising of the body, and the wet feet and ankles of William – being ignored.   She was buried in Glasnevin cemetery and that was that.

Except that it wasn’t.   Rumours started to circulate about William’s character.   It turned out that he had a history of physical violence and may also have been a bigamist.   So a finger of suspicion began to be pointed at him as potentially being involved in Maria’s demise.

A few weeks after the case had been considered closed, William was arrested and charged with murder.   Maria’s body was exhumed and a post-mortem was held.   In his trial, evidence of his “character” (notably that he had eight children by a mistress in Dublin), alongside slightly dubious medical evidence from the post mortem, was deemed sufficient to convict him and he was sentenced to death.   Fortunately for William, he had a number of well heeled connections who pleaded on his behalf and the sentence was eventually commuted to life imprisonment with transportation.  He was sent to Bermuda to do hard labour and was eventually released after 27 years.   He died a year after his release.

To this day, rival theories still abound as to whether Maria died of natural causes – a fit perhaps, followed by drowning – or whether William murdered her.   Or perhaps even that she was the victim of a completely unknown third party.    We can never be certain exactly what happened but all this is a long way of saying that a new book has been published – you can see it in the banner image of at the top of the blog – about the mystery.   It’s got good reviews and even better my friend in the walking club has lent me a copy, which I have started to read and already I’m gripped.

So the book framed my day, really.   It was nice and warm again, and as Val was out at work first thing, I thought that it might be a good idea to go for a swim.   I must admit I did toy with the idea of taking a dip in the sea but the appearance of a coastguard helicopter over the beach at Portmarnock – which is never a good omen – rather put me off.   So I took the easier but much more expensive option of the pool at the leisure centre, where I enjoyed a relaxing 1000m swim.   My only disappointment was that the café – where I normally get a cup of coffee and a croissant afterwards – was closed.

Once my exercise for the day was finished, I headed off to the coast.   Because by this stage I was already fully engaged in the death of Sarah Maria Louisa Kirwan, I had taken the precaution of bringing the book with me.   Once on the shore, I found a suitable boulder to sit on and allowed myself the joyous luxury of being by the sea, in the warm sun, reading a book.    I think this is what a lot of people do on their summer holidays but this was practically the first time I had ever tried it and I must admit I found it addictively relaxing.  It was a very appropriate spot to be reading this particular book as, just by lifting my eyes from the pages and up to the horizon there was Ireland’s Eye, the subject of all the intrigue, floating right there in front of me.

So by most yardsticks, today was a pretty unusual day – well it was for me at any rate.   Lots of excitement and intrigue, as well as the delight of a wonderfully warm and relaxing day on the coast.   But I’m going to cut this blog short now as I need to get back to my reading.  Even though I sort of know how the book is going to end, I want to see how all the fascinating details reveal themselves as I turn its pages.   Perhaps I’ll be able to give you an update tomorrow night.   Until then..


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Up in the castle demesne the grass is mostly still looking green despite the warm weather lately.   I think this is the Gaelic football and hurling field – both sports are played on the same pitch and share many of the same rules (e.g. 1 point for getting the ball between the posts over the horizontal bar, three points for getting it into the goal below the bar).   The pitch looks like Rugby, but the game is quite different. Some of the grass up on Paddy’s Hill is turning a bit brown now – though the shower of rain this afternoon might go a little way to restoring its emerald hue
Although it was warm and sunny today, I still wasn’t tempted by the sea… …especially as a coastguard helicopter spent much of the early afternoon hovering ominously over the beach at Portmarnock.   I hope it wasn’t a serious incident
I was puzzled why this flock of gulls were seemingly busy drinking seawater just by this breakwater.   Then I realised that a culvert flows out from under the promenade onto the beach here, so presumably this is fresh water.   I’ve never seen seabirds drinking anything before – I assumed they got enough moisture from the fish they ate – so this was a first for me. It was quite a lot cooler down by the sea – maybe 26C at most, with quite a lot of cloud and a moderate breeze keeping everything feeling quite comfortable.   Probably one of the few places in Europe that is feeling comfortable right now, actually
On Portmarnock beach this afternoon.   OK the tide was in so everyone was squashed up a bit – but I’ve never seen anything like these crowds.   Just a couple of weeks ago there were scarcely more than half a dozen people on the beach, huddled together for warmth and slowly turning blue with cold!
Interactive map

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

Total distance: 10370 m
Max elevation: 49 m
Min elevation: 1 m
Total climbing: 161 m
Total descent: -161 m
Total time: 05:02:21
Download file: Portmarnock Swimming Pool combined compressed corrected.gpx

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