Saturday, 15 December 2012
A winter wonderland
Dublin was aglow last night, with Christmas shoppers thronging the city centre streets, and a holiday buzz in the narrow streets in the Temple Bar area, where weekend revellers appeared to be enjoying the dry, crisp and bright mid-winter weather.
About 20 of us with cathedral links – some chapter members, others choir members and acolytes, and some priests who are involved in the liturgical and pastoral life of the cathedral – had our pre-Christmas dinner in Essex Gate last night.
Later, as we strolled back past the cathedral, I was amazed how many people were enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the grounds of the cathedral late at night.
That sharp crisp weather continued today, with clear blue skies and few clouds, and in the bright morning I was at a funeral in Saint Brigid’s Church, Stillorgan.
Stillorgan is an ancient parish, but the original church was in ruins by the late 17th century and the present church was built between 1706 and 1712, but it was given a much later Georgian appearance when the tower and north aisle were added in 1812.
The graves in the churchyard include those of three generation of the Gough family, who once lived at Saint Helen’s, on the Stillorgan Road – now the Radisson Hotel – which was bought in 1851 by Field Marshall Hugh Gough (1779-1869), 1st Viscount Gough. He is buried in the churchyard at Saint Brigid’s alongside his son, George Gough (1815-1895), 2nd Viscount Gough, and Hugh Gough (1849-1919), 3rd Viscount Gough.
The parishioners of Saint Brigid’s also included Archbishop Richard Whatley (1787-1863), who lived at Redesdale House and who once pronounced: “Happiness is no laughing matter.”
From Stillorgan, two of us went down the N11 to Greystones, Co Wicklow, and had lunch in the Happy Pear on Church Road, before going for a walk on the beach. The tide was in, and as the waves broke gently on the sand and the water receded, they left a shining, silvery glow on the sand.
We stopped again in Bray for a coffee and ice cream in Gino’s and a second walk on the beach there. It was so bright that was almost possible to imagine that this could have been a Spring day.