Monday, 22 March 2010

Strolling through Skerries in the Spring sunshine

Spring sails in Skerries Harbour (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

Patrick Comerford

The weekend was very busy – 25 new students were in for a full weekend on a residential course, and so there were lectures, workshops, and the full round of daily services in the chapel. In addition, I was in Saint John’s Church, Clondalkin, for the institution of the former Rector of Holmpatrick (Skerries), Balbriggan and Kenure (Rush), the Revd Alan Rufli, as Rector of Clondalkin and Rathcoole, and friends I hadn’t seen for over a year came around for dinner on Saturday night.

Apart from the disappointing defeat of the Irish rugby team, it was a demanding weekend that was full of variety and satisfaction.

But by lunchtime on Sunday I was tired. I had no walk on the beach the previous weekend, and during the past week the symptoms of sarcoidosis have been wearying: pains in my joints – especially in my knees and in the back of my neck, pins and needles under my feet and at the tips of my toes, and uncomfortable swelling in my neck.

I really felt I needed and deserved that beach walk by mid-day on Sunday. It was bright and sunny, and the temperature was about 16 or 17 when I got as far as Rush. The view across Rogerstown Estuary over to Portrane was clear and bright. Then, north of Rush, as the road began to drop down towards Holmpatrick, the sea and the sky were clear blue – it was one of the brightest and warmest days of the year so far.

The sun had brought people out in great numbers. The tables outside the Olive in Strand Street, my favourite café in Skerries, were full; the bikers were enjoying the sun outside Joe May’s; all the other bars and restaurants appeared to be full to capacity; and the sun was sparkling across the waters of Skerries Harbour.

Spring sunshine in Skerries Harbour (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

A few small sailing boats were setting out from the harbour, and up on Red Island, a lone swimmer was brave enough to plunge into the water, encouraged by a handful of people who were stunned or surprised at his bravado. Spring truly had arrived.

Sparkling sunshine on the sea at Skerries beach (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

Down on the beach, yet another lone swimmer stayed in the water for a while, as families strolled on the sand and a few people played with kites.

Flying kites on Skerries beach in the afternoon sun (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

After buying the papers in Gerry’s and a double espresso in the Olive, I strolled through the backstreets of Skerries trying to savour the last moments of this later afternoon, enjoying the stretch in the day that has become so obvious.

Small cottages add to the hidden charm of the back streets of Skerries (Photographs: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

The Cross is a quiet haven right in the centre of Skerries, and there for the first time I noticed the antique charm of the Gladstone Bar. Here, or looking at the arches in New Street or the charming gates and cottages and houses in Church Street, you realise that there are many hidden attractions in this town.

The symptoms of sarcoidosis this week have made it difficult to have enough energy for sustained walking. But as evening closed in I was wishing for more time and more evenings like this to enjoy strolling through Skerries.

Easter colours in flowers in Skerries (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)