A Darting Day.

The other day I decided to try as many of the modes of public transport available to me in Dublin.

 dublin area

Leaving Elly & George’s house, I hopped on the local bus  to town (Dublin), alighting at Heuston Train Station. From there I jumped on a Luas tram to Connolly Train Station, where I boarded the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART), that runs from Howth & Malahide on the north of Dublin bay right to Bray and on under Bray Head to Greystones in Co Wicklow.

I chose the southerly direction and a destination of Greystones.  It has been over almost half a century. since I visited Greystones, back then it was a very sleepy village.

Plenty of overhead cables at this end of the street

Plenty of overhead cables at this end of the street

Although expansion has taken place in Greystones and the arrival of the ‘Dart’, turned it into a commuter town.

The other end of the street. Note the difference when the cables are underground

The other end of the street. Note the difference when the cables are underground

The place still holds on the village feeling with a wonderful selection of interesting restaurants and well looked after shops and boutiques.

Mrs Robinsons_1

Mrs Robinsons Restaurant

Mrs Robinson believes in looking after her outdoor customers.
Mrs Robinson believes in looking after her outdoor customers.

I ambled my way about the streets and sat for a coffee at the Happy Pear  It was busy, but welcoming and the coffee was good. I sat outside and ‘people watched’.

I found this small strand from the road, but it was a long climb down

I found this small strand from the road, but it was a long climb down

Then it was time to seek out the beach of soft coarse sand.

Soft sand, but no bright sun so far today

Soft sand, but no bright sun so far today

The sky was clearing and the sun appearing…

I see the sea!

I see the sea!

When I had my fill, I worked my way back to the Dart Station, to head back towards town. Realising that I had never travelled all the way round Dublin Bay in one go, I got my ticket to take me to Howth.

End of the line at Howth Dart Station

End of the line at Howth Dart Station

Howth was really the end of the line. I have been to Howth on many occasions, so did not dally this time.

I took the Dart back to Connelly Station, from there the Luas to Heuston Station and this time a train from Heuston to Adamstown.

The fresh sea air, had sharpened my appitite and the aroma of good cooking was very welcome smell. Elly & George produced aperitifs and nibbles to snack on, as I shared my adventure and we waited for dinner.

So I was on a bus, tram, Dart and train, now that leaves boats and planes for another day!

A taste of my Dublin Week

Sheep shade

Sheep shade

Monday sun and rising...

Monday sun and rising…

Photographing the Alphabet ~ O

O ~ Organ

This Pipe organ is in St John’s Church, Donegore, nestled against the side of Donegore Hill.


St John’s church on a sunny afternoon

The parish was fortunate to receive the gift of this pipe organ from St Brigid’s Church of Ireland, Parish of Mallusk, Co. Antrim. It had started life in a Roman Catholic Church in the South of Ireland and spent some time in a Presbyterian church before the move to Mallusk.

Many hands were needed to assist in the task of moving the seven hundred and eighty pieces from St Brigid’s Church to the horse lorry, and again from there into Donegore Church.

Pedals polished by regular footwork.

A view from the pulpit.

The church still uses candle power for lighting the building, and the Christmas Carol Service is always packed to the doors.

In the south-west corner of the churchyard is the watch-house, or corpse house, built in 1832 to foil the attempts of the “resurrectionists” at body-snatching.You can see it at the beginning of this little video clip. It was my very first attempt at making a soundless video and not very high quality, but you get the idea!


Donegore Church is a Grade A Listed Building by the Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch of the Depratment of the Enviroment (N.I.) and the corpse house is also a listed building. As such, restoration and repair must be carried out to the highest standards and in sympathy with the architecture and history of the building.

Green Day

Slemish in the distance

Slemish, historically called Slieve Mish, in the townland of Carnstroan a few miles east of Ballymena, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is the remains of the plug of an extinct volcano. Tradition holds that Saint Patrick was enslaved as a youth and brought to this area to tend sheep herds on Slemish, and that during this time he found God.

A view from the other side

A circular walk starts from the car park at the base of Slemish, up a steep rocky track to the summit some 1437 feet above sea level. The track down is much gentler and leads back to the car park. On a clear day, as the song goes,it is possible to see as far as the Sperrins.

On this our National Holiday…. May your life abound with blessings:

A soft breeze when summer comes, a warm fireside in winter

And always: The warm, soft smile of a friend.

Grant us a sense of humour, Lord, the saving grace to see a joke,

To win some happiness from life, and pass it on to other folks.

♣ ♣ ♣


It was hard to credit that my journey from Co Antrim to Co Down was taking place in the month of June and not darkest November. Setting out at 3pm, I drove through the darkness of fog, road spray & rain so heavy it was necessary to use dipped beams and fog lights! My sympathy was with those running, walking or dancing through the streets carrying and trying to keep a ‘torch’ alight.

My rendezvous was with the speccy family at the Outlet Centre outside Banbridge and we were to travel together from there into the town.  Mr Speccy was Torch Bearer No. 90 and we were headed to find a Pole/Lamp Post with that number on it.

Pole No 90 and basecamp for The Speccy Family

In our group we had a proud Mum & Dad (who travelled from England for the occasion) Mrs ‘Pole 90′ aka speccy, Girl1 & Girl2. Along the way we grew in numbers with friends, colleagues and school children.

The miserable wet day may have soaked the clothing of the spectators, but it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of the crowds waiting all along the streets of Banbridge in Co Down, yesterday evening.

A smile in the rain from a finalist for Face of Northern Ireland as we wait for the torch bearers to arrive.

The pole with a gold number 90 was the spot where Mr speccy would accept the flame from the previous runner and begin his journey. We got there in good time and spread along the kerbside. As the minutes passed the crowd swelled and buzz of chatter grew with n air of anticipation and excitement.

Police outriders were the clue that the parade was arriving.

There I go again… distracted by a Toyboy on a bike and look what happens…..

I almost missed the man of the moment arriving to be greeted by family and friends!

In place and ready for the hand over of the Olympic flame.

Passing on the flame.

Robbie aka Mr Speccy – Son, husband, father, teacher & friend – a man known to go more than the extra mile for those in need, is ready to run for Northern Ireland in the Banbridge stretch of the London 2012 torch route.

He is off!

Well done young man!

Openings 37 ~ A hole

An opening in a rock at Cavehill, high above Belfast.

The photo was taken from the area called the Devil’s Punchbowl.

Cave Hill Country Park gets its name from five caves – which could be early iron mines – located on the side of the main Belfast cliffs. Click to enlarge the photo ( I can only find three caves at this angle) or take a virtual tour of the Cave hill and McArt’s Fort

There is a challenging circular route walk (4.5 miles), beginning at Belfast Castle it can, however, be joined from

  • Bellevue (Belfast Zoo) car park
  • Upper Hightown Road
  • Upper Cavehill Road.

It is a steep climb over unsurfaced paths. I know. I have done it in the past, right to the top, and hope to try it again someday. I did go back on my own as far as the Devil’s punchbowl, but would not attempt to go further alone these days.

Any takers?

McArt’s Fort

You need stout shoes and waterproofs in case the weather changes. But on a clear day the view is well worth it.

That’s not me, but I have been up there on that spot.

Looking down over Belfast Lough as the Stena Voyager catamaran makes her way into Belfast from Scotland

Now I will let you into a little secret….

I had to go out especially to take the next few pictures.

From Fortwilliam roundabout

The Cave hill from below, is distinguished by its famous “Napoleon’s Nose”, a basaltic outcrop which resembles the profile of the famous emperor.

It is said to have inspired the famous novel Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.*

View from the Waterworks Park at the Cavehill Road, Belfast

Way below the cliff there is an actual Lilliput Street, off the Shore Rd.

The street has been rejuvenated in recent years but the buildings on the next street corner have yet to have a facelift.

* A visit to Auntie Wikipedia gives me a different story:

Lilliput is reputedly named after the real area of Lilliput on the shores of Lough Ennell in Dysart, Mullingar, County Westmeath in Ireland. Swift was a regular visitor to the Rochfort family at Gaulstown House. It’s said that it was when Swift looked across the expanse of Lough Ennell one day and saw the tiny human figures on the opposite shore of the lake that he conceived the idea of the Lilliputians featured in Gulliver’s Travels.

I think it is a case of ‘you pays your money and you takes your choice’!

Openings ~ 33 Botanic Gardens, Dublin

One of the many entrances to the Curvilinear Glasshouses, Irish National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.Begun in 1843 and opened in 1849, but not actually completed until 1869. The east wing was built by William Clancy, but the remaining sections were built by Richard Turner, and his son William. It is the most important building in the Gardens and another glimpse will be seen in the post tomorrow. The range was faithfully restored in 1995.

There are a great variety of glasshouses in the grounds and they come in many shapes and sizes, the first of which was built in 1800. The Palm house was erected in 1884, when the previous wooden building was damaged in a storm. This building and its accompanying Orchid House and Camellia house wings was restored in 2004.

During a visit in March this year my focus was on the Conservatory. The first building you see from the car park.

To mark National Tree Week an exhibition – ‘In celebration of trees’ – An exhibition of Bonsai, was in progress. A series of free re-potting demonstrations was held during the course of the exhibition.

I was not there at the time of the demonstrations, but was privileged to meet Andrew J Murray the owner of the specimens, who for the second year running had been invited to use the space to display his treasures.  He had 150 specimens on display all nurtured, carried and set out for the couple of weeks at his own expense.  It was a real labour of love.

Andrew Murray

Andrew told me that he liked to reproduce our own native trees in miniature form.

Openings 31 ~ Bull Wall

Ladies bathing Shelter on the Bull Wall beside Dollymount Strand, in Dublin. The wall features multiple public bathing shelters (each designated male or female), with steps down to the water – the water is close by only at mid- to high-tide.

The view across Dublin Bay from the top of the bathing steps, taken on a previous visit. Note the snow on the hills.

Looking at the shelter from Dollymount strand. The strand is 5km/3.1miles long and was the place we spent many a Sunday afternoon during my childhood. We walked, swam, built sandcastles and explored the sand dunes and enjoyed picnics with pots of spuds and tea boiled on a Primus stove.

There are two golf courses located at Dollymount, The Royal Dublin Golf Club and Saint Anne’s Golf Club.  The Royal Dublin Golf Club has played host on many occasions to The Irish Open Golf tournament.

The island is a bird sanctuary of international importance with close to 200 different species of birds including wintering waterbirds, waders and predators such as Kestrels, Peregrines, Sparrowhawks and Merlins. Birdwatch Ireland arranges field trips to the island throughout the year.

Walking dogs on the beach is a popular activity but the dogs must be kept under tight control due to the Wildlife Reserve.

Like many a Dubliner, I learned to drive on Dollymount strand as it has a firm flat sandy beach during low tide.  Today, access by car is limited to a section of the island located near the Bull Bridge and two sections near the causeway at Raheny.

The Wickerman

Last night I spent a couple of hours at The WickerMan in Belfast. I have visited this amazing Aladdin’s cave of celtic arts, crafts and gifts, several times in the past. Every inch of the shop is tastefully put to good use with something for every one.

The WickerMan is the brainchild of Laurence Burrell and Peter Todd. The effervescent Laurence oozes with infectious enthusiasm for her work and it is evident everywhere from the window display to the back wall.

Laurence Excels in the kitchen as well as the craft world, here she is with some of her home made treats for all of us last night.

During an expansion of floor space a few years ago, one area seemed ideal for small exhibitions or classes. And these are well subscribed to, and attended.

For the month of April – perhaps this year we should rename it Titanic Month!! ;) -

We saw the beginning of an exhibition called:


by local digital artist

Jeff Meredith

L to R: Jeff Meredith talking to David Graham while Laurence provides more goodies.

This was Jeff’s first exhibition, for which he designed an unusual and interesting set of images celebrating the history of a selection of Belfast’s iconic buildings, art and culture. They are all available as mounted and framed prints, postcards and greetings cards.

The People

The sayings

The food

I mentioned David Graham above. We had a long chat that could have gone on all night.  He is a Blue Badge Tour Guide and conducts tours all over Ireland in German, French & English. A mine of information and very willing to share it.  It was absolutely amazing the coincidences there were in our life paths. I had the privilege of meeting his wife Joan at the end of the evening. A lovely lady.

Openings 30 ~ The Back Gate

This is the back gate to Glasnevin Cemetery and in true Dublin style the next door neighbour is a pub.  Well…. You have to drown your sorrows and give the dearly departed a good send off!

It is the final resting place for over 1.1 million people. The option of cremation has been provided since March 1982.

John Kavanagh’s Pub was established in 1833 and the current family are the 6th generation in the business. It is beside the old Glasnevin Cemetery Gate, at Prospect Square off Botanic Avenue, Glasnevin.

It is also known as “The Gravediggers’ because of its location next to the cemetery and its attached folk history.  A common spot in times past, for body snatchers and burkers to grab a pint after a hard nights work.  The place got its name as it was customary for gravediggers to bang their shovels against the pub’s wall to signify to the landlord that they were ready for a pint. Once the pints were drawn and settled, they were handed through the railings to the workmen.  A tally was kept behind the bar and the bill settled on pay day.

It is a genuine Victorian bar, totally unspoilt – and it has a reputation for serving one of the best pints in Dublin.

I asked permission to take photos and was directed to the old original bar with one proviso: Not to photograph the customers as some of them did not like their quiet drink interrupted.

No music, “piped or otherwise”, no TV or telephone and no singing allowed.

You have to chat!

You wont be alone for long, someone will say hello, I was drawn into conversation by the men (this section seemed to be a man’s pub) the banter was mighty and I had difficulty withdrawing to rejoin my two friends who brought me there.

So if you want to stay on your own….stay away!

All this running around and visiting pubs purely for research purposes, you understand, ;) has helped me reach post 2000 today.  It is enough to give a girl a thirst!