It’s an addiction. It’s life threatening. It’s awesome. Huddling together in the bitter cold, on Friday the 13th, under a weak and feeble January sun, they all argue that there’s nothing better. Sure, there’s dramatic stories of nearly dying. But the group is adamant that the buzz is worth it. Great, they say, for the mental health. “It’s the perfect anti-depressant,” photographer Barry Delaney says. Listening to them, you hear the language of addiction, of love, of religion even. I didn’t miss a single day last year. I would feel absolutely guilty if I did Welcome to Sandycove’s famous Forty Foot and
From GAA finals in Croke Park to mountain treks and seaside strolls, Dublin has something to offer for all sports fans and outdoor adventurers.
The people, places and things that make Dublin special. Set on 260 acres of parkland in the seaside town of Malahide, 16 km north of Dublin, Malahide Castle was home to the Talbot family from 1185 to 1975. The atmospheric castle – yes, there are ghosts – is furnished with period furniture and a large collection of Irish portraiture on loan from the National Gallery. Four main rooms are open to the public: the wood-panelled Oak room, the Small and Great Drawing Rooms and the Great Hall, where an exhibition records the history of the family who lived at the castle for almost 800 years.
A stone’s throw from the city (this could depend on one’s throwing arm), there’s something extreme going on. Tyres hitting gravel and muck at speed. That’s all we’ll say for the moment, we’ll let Niall Davis from Biking.ie do the talking. Quick note: a “spin” for the uninitiated, like ourselves, is going out on your mountain bike. Dublin.ie: Tell us a bit about Biking.ie? Niall: We’ve two locations, one in the Dublin mountains [Ticknock] and one in the Wicklow mountains [Ballinastoe]. From both those hubs we run bike rentals, lessons, tours, and we act as an information or
Half way down the South Wall pier at Poolbeg, Irishtown and you quickly realise you are somewhere very different. For one, you’re a good bit away from land. Could anyone hear you scream out here? Perhaps, but that’s a very strong wind. Then, when looking out to sea, you have the waves brutally crashing into the wall on one side, but the gentle lapping of Dublin harbour on the other. It can seem surreal. Maybe madness and lunacy figure in the whole package Turn around and there’s a stunning view either side of both the north and south side of Dublin. It’s at this point you realise how rare it is to see both sides of this bizarre city
Croke Park. It’s not just a stadium. As Tim Carey, author of Croke Park: A History says, ‘More than perhaps any other sporting venue, Croke Park represents something that is beyond sport’. The place has always had another agenda – one that’s intimately connected with the birth and evolution of a nation. ‘It is freighted with historical significance’, says Carey, ‘from the naming of the stands after various figures associated with the GAA to the momentous historical event of Bloody Sunday. Perhaps no other stadium in the worl
Montpelier Hill, better known as The Hell Fire Club to Dubliners, is a lovely place for a weekend walk. It has a variety of short forest trails and provides wonderful views of the city from the south-west. On the weekends you can find it busy with urbanites escaping the city and dogs running free. At the top sits a large hunting lodge where, if the stories are to be believed, some very strange things have happened. Originally there was a passage grave with a cairn at the top of the hill. Speaker Conolly, one of the wealthiest men in Ireland, built the hunting lodge on its site. Conolly is said to have destroyed the cairn while building the lodge, using a standing stone as the lintel of the fireplace.
Perhaps you seek refuge from the clamour of the city? Then head away from Stephen’s Green. Walk up Harcourt Street. Take a left. And approach the gates at the end of Clonmel Street. Enter. And breathe. Around you are green lawns. Trees, Fountains. Statues. A rose garden. A maze. A grotto. An elegant promenade. And, crucial to our purpose here, not very many people. Indeed, mid-afternoon of an autumn’s day you may very well have the place to yourself. The place is Iveagh Gardens. It’s a Victorian park. So is Stephen’s Green, of course. But the difference in the atmosphere is pronounced – a direct result of its history.