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Sunday 3 August 2014

Walking in the rain

The forecast for today was terrible but I really wanted to get into Dublin and do some urban walking so I ignored the red alert weather warning from Met Eireann and headed in prepared to get a bit of a soaking. I have all this rain gear that I bought for my planned, but as yet un-booked summer hike, so it would have been a poor showing if I wasn’t able to handle a bit of moisture while walking around a city where I could bail out whenever I felt like it.

It worked out pretty well though and I got a 25km loop walk in from The Ha’penny Bridge all the way out to Poolbeg lighthouse, returning via Sandymount with the precipitation well under the “Soft day, thank God” level for 90% of the time. The biblical level downpour finally hit me just as I got home so overall, major score.

And in the end I realised that Dublin in the rain is basically my idea of heaven. Which gives me a weak, but defensible, reason to link to Sinead O’Connor’s Troy which opens with: “..Dublin in a Rainstorm” . That song makes me think long and hard about all of my life choices, and in the end realise I wouldn’t change any of them. And before anyone thinks I’ve suddenly become all bitter and twisted, I really do absolutely adore the song, but the vitriol and pain at the end is completely alien to me. I’m very glad I am who I am, and would not for one second want to be able to feel anger and pain in that way. Let alone actually feel that way.

Anyway, for various reasons, today somehow got itself into my all time top 10.

I had decided that the rain would have been bad for the Nikon so I relied on the iPhone in case I needed to take some pictures. On balance it was a good decision but I would have loved to have a DSLR at various points. My main aim was just to get in a decent walk, and was in town anyway to see the sand sculptures at Dublin Castle, so I thought, what the heck, head out to Poolbeg. It was a great decision. Dublin was almost deserted because of the weather alert, totally un-necessarily as it happened, and the light drizzle eventually gave way to a cool day that was perfect for walking.

I didn’t get that many pictures but I was very happy with most of those that I took and the iPhone stood up well as a substitute for a real camera under the conditions.

The sand sculptures at Dublin Castle were superb. I was initially disappointed that there were only three but when I got up close I could see that didn’t mater at all. They were worth the effort of coming into town all on their own. One had some slight rain damage but seriously, can you tell?

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Dublin Castle was deserted which seemed bizarre for a public holiday weekend in mid summer. My agoraphobia was literally dancing in the rain at this point however. 

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Around the back the Dublin Castle Garden was set up for “A Midsummer Nights Dream”. The last show is tonight and being held indoors because of the rain which is a pity, would have loved to see it in this location.


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Empty and all as it was, the rain allowed Dublin Castle’s more permanent art installations to shine. In the sun I’ve found these blocky pieces underwhelming but I thought they were beautiful this morning. 

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As I wandered around over to Grafton St along Johnson’s Court I finally added 1+1 together to make two and realised that these lovely tiled mosaics…

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Are part of …

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Yeah I am a bit slow.

After the city centre I was in full hiking mode but as I was heading east I realised that I was passing some major scientific heritage and just had to get a picture of part of the cast iron railings on the south side of Trinity, made by J&R Mallet sometime in the early 19th century. The “R.” in there was Robert Mallet, the Irishman who is credited with coming up with the term seismology, built the first true seismograph and was one of the first people, if not the first, to use photography as a tool in scientific research when he produced a report for the Royal Society in 1862 on the effects of the great Neapolitan Earthquake of 1857.

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One of his more impressive constructions, the Fastnet Rock lighthouse, is also still standing. I should make a shout out to Ingenious Ireland for knowing this, as I learned about him on one of their tours. Which you should go on if you are ever in Dublin.

The quick hike east continued, in lightening rain. with Dublin deserted for the most part but looking lovely IMO. The bizarre ghost seagull in the second image is an artefact of the iPhone’s HDR shooting mode, which failed to do anything even remotely “HDR” in this case  but did create something I liked all the same.

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Just in case you didn’t remember that it was wet the Grand Canal Dock was quite literally overflowing. The lock gates at Buckingham Lock were basically just the backdrop to a waterfall despite having one of the sluices almost fully open.

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The rain had eased at this point and the 10km walk out from Irishtown to Poolbeg Lighthouse was really pleasant. It is one of my favourite walks anywhere.

And as ever I had to get a shot of the Poolbeg Chimneys tucked away in the distance behind some yucca’s. Thankfully Dublin City Council and the ESB have decided not to demolish them, Dublin’s skyline would be massively diminished without them.

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Once I got to the end of the South Wall and had reached the Poolbeg lighthouse I got a nice shot looking back over the million or so tons of hewn granite that is The Great South Wall. 3km of it is now subsumed by Ringsend dock and Poolbeg but it stretched over 6km when it was completed and was approximately 10mx10m in cross section. That’s at least 600,000 cubic meters. Or about half a Great Pyramid for those of you who haven’t gone metric. It’s about 8km from this point back to O’Connell Bridge. At this point I really regretted not having the DSLR – the distortion of the iPhone camera is pretty epic in this.

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On the return trip I detoured out onto the sand where sand is littered with the shells of cockles, mussels, clams, scallops and a host of others that I couldn’t identify. Probably not safe to eat but it’s good to see that Dublin bay still has an ecosystem capable of supporting a decent variety of shellfish. .

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A couple of hours later, after I eventually made it all the way back in and was closing in on my 25km target, I passed Pitt Bro’ who had yet another memorable snarky meat eater comment painted on their window. I will have to eat in there someday and see if the food is as entertaining and creative as their marketing.

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