Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Autumn closes in on Rathfarnham
along the banks of the Dodder

A heron enjoys the autumn evening at the weir on the Dodder near Rathfarnham Road (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)
Patrick Comerford

Many years ago, when I was working as a journalist in The Irish Times, I hated working the late shifts, which involved starting work after darkness had fallen, and getting home before the dawn and the sunrise.

It upset my body clock to work in the dark and to try to rest in daylight.

But autumn has truly started to settle in this week, and with the clocks changing at the weekend, the evenings are going to get darker much earlier next week.

It will be some months before we hear again that favourite Irish adage: “There’s a grand stretch in the evening.”

So this evening, I took one of the last remaining opportunities this autumn to walk home in the fading light of evening, along the banks of the River Dodder.

Fast flowing waters beneath the weir at Rathfarnham (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Along the stretch of riverbank between the Loftus Arch and the bridge at Rathfarnham Road, there was still plenty of green growth on the trees, but the autumn colours of golden rust and light brown are coming to the fore, and the river was brown and fast flowing with the waters that have intensified with the rain of the past few days.

Two men who appeared to have been fishing for most of the afternoon were packing in the day. But a passing teenager told the fish were still jumping, and perched on the weir I spied a heron, pecking his way through the swirling water, taking advantage of this special autumn harvest.

Above the weir, the pair of swans who have lived here for years, were peacefully silent.

I crossed the road at the junction with Rathfarnham Road, and joined the river bank again below the sloped behind Rathfarnham Village. The evening lights had faded, the sensors were switching on the roadside lights, and by the time I reached Rathfarnham Shopping Centre the drizzle had turned to a light rain.

Autumn colours reflected in the River Dodder below the bridge at Rathfarnham Road (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)