The award-winning Father Collins Park is Ireland’s first wholly sustainable park, capable of generating all of its own energy needs onsite thanks to 250kW of wind turbine capacity. The playgrounds, skate park, running track, and playing pitches are enjoyed year round.
All the same, there’s something slightly unnerving about seeing tall powerful machines left to their own devices as it gets dark.
Still and cold, the sort of day when nothing moves if it doesn’t need to. Even the chimneys are idle. Built 8 years apart, and of different widths to guard against resonance effects in windy conditions, the landmark 207-metre chimneys at Poolbeg were decommissioned in 2010, but still stand tall.
Formerly inhabited by the native red squirrel, St. Anne’s Park now has a large population of the invasive grey squirrel instead, an increasingly common problem in most of Ireland. At least one novel approach to reducing the number of grey squirrels has been proposed.
In the middle of winter, finding food is a full-time occupation for all of Dublin’s wildlife, whether native, introduced or recently arrived.
…if not forever, at least quite a long way. Looking north from the cliff walk on Bray Head, Howth Head is visible 20km away across Dublin Bay, with Lambay Island beyond at 35km. The edge of Dalkey Island is just visible where the cliff walk rounds the corner, with the Muglins rocks and their solar-powered lighthouse to the east.
The short outer tunnel was part of Brunel’s original 1855 route for the railway line between Bray and Greystones, which included wooden trestle bridges. Looking south towards Greystones, the challenge Brunel faced is evident.
Once home to one of Ireland’s largest fishing fleets, Howth Harbour remains an active fishery harbour, though on a much reduced scale. With more yachts than trawlers, the harbour has been divided into two basins to reflect the changed requirements. Both the RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard operate from the harbour.
Ireland’s Eye lies a kilometre north of the harbour. The Martello tower at the north-western tip of the island is one of 28 built along the Dublin coastline in the early 19th century to defend against a feared Napoleonic invasion. They were never tested.
The 13th-century Record Tower is the only intact tower from the mediaeval period of Dublin Castle, and was used as a high security prison. The battlements were added in the early 19th century, around the time the adjoining gothic revival Chapel Royal was built.
It was from this tower that Red Hugh O’Donnell, Art O’Neill and Henry O’Neill made their escape on a winter’s night in 1592, setting out for Glenmalure after lowering themselves down the toilet chute. Participants in the Art O’Neill Challenge usually skip that part.
Just outside the walls of Dublin Castle, the Dubhlinn Garden occupies the site of the ‘black pool’ on the River Poddle that gave Dublin its name in Viking times. The Irish name of the city, Baile Átha Cliath, comes from the older Gaelic settlement at the ‘ford of hurdles’ that crossed the Liffey nearby.
The colours of the walls are reminiscent of the logo for the Dublin Millennium in 1988, the year of Anna Livia, milkbottles and fifty-pence pieces.