Sunday, 6 April 2014

A day to enjoy the warm weather and
sing about the Meeting of the Waters

Full colours in the flower beds at Avoca in Kilmacanogue, Co Wiclow (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Patrick Comerford

I served as Deacon at the Cathedral Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this morning (6 April 2014), the Fifth Sunday in Lent, reading the Gospel (John 11: 1-45) and assisting with the chalice at the administration of the Holy Communion.

The celebrant was the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Dermot Dunne, the Revd Robert Lawson assisted as sub-deacon, and the preacher was Canon William Deverell of Saint Maelruain’s Parish, Tallaght.

The setting for the Eucharist was the Messe en sol majeur by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), sung by the Cathedral Choir.

Trees in flower at Avoca in Kilmacanogue, Co Wiclow, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Later, after coffee in the cathedral crypt, two of us went for lunch in Avoca in Kilmacanogue, near Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

I know a publican in Lichfield who says people have natural, in-built thermostats because once the temperatures reach 16 they start to move outdoors to eat or drink.

The temperatures had reached 16 this afternoon, the sun was shining, the skies were blue, the flowers and the buds on the trees were in radiant bright colours, and people were sitting out on the tables on the terrace on Avoca, lingering over lunch and coffee.

Walking along the sea defences at the North Beach in Arklow, Co Wicklow, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Later, we drove on south through the Glen of the Downs, and our plan was originally to go for a walk on the beach at Brittas Bay. But we continued on instead as far as Arklow, at the southern edge of Co Wicklow.

Close to the Bridgewater Shopping Centre on the north side of Arklow Bay, we went for a walk along the sea defences above the North Beach, close to the Arklow Bay Hotel.

Reeds at the small lake by the North Beach im Arklow, Co Wicklow, (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

There was a high tide, and the waves were beating strongly against the large rocks and boulders on the sea defences. The sun was still shining, and below us, on the other side of the defences, a small boating lake was filled with swans, geese and ducks and families were enjoying the walks along the nature trail.

Colourful and picturesque Avoca was the location for the television series Ballykissangel (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

From Arklow, we drove west into the Wicklow Mountains, and the village of Avoca, which had once been used as the location for the television series Ballykissangel … and once even had its own Greek restaurant.

We turned south to Woodenbridge, to photograph the hotel where John Redmond made a famous speech in 1914 urging Irish men to volunteer for the British Army at the beginning of World War I.

At the meeting of the Waters … an inspiration for the poet and songwriter Tom Moore (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

We then made our way back north through Avoca to the Meeting of the Waters, where the River Avonmore and River Avonbeg meet at a confluence that once inspired Thomas Moore. Here the two rivers join and flow on south as the Avoca River, though Avoca and Woodenbridge to the sea at Arklow Bay.

Ardavon House … once a Comerford family home in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, but now in a sad state of decay (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Our last stop was in Rathdrum. Although it was long after 6, the sun was still shining and it looked deceptively like summer with people sitting outside the village pubs enjoying the exceptional weather.

We stopped briefly at Ardavon House, once home to generations of a branch of the Comerford family.

Ardavon House once occupied a prominent site at the northern end of the village, facing the junction of the Main Street with the roads to Lowtown and to Clara, Laragh and Glendalough.

This had been a Comerford family home until 1958, when it was acquired by the Wicklow County Vocational Education Committee (VEC). It was a school until the end of 1991 when it was superseded by the newly built Avondale Community College. The woodwork used in the construction of Ardavon was pitch pine, said to have been salvaged from a vessel wrecked off the Wicklow coast.

Ardavon House was badly destroyed in a fire in 1997. Despite local authority undertakings to rebuild it, the house stands derelict, a sad reminder of former days.

We turned back through the village, and returned through the Glen of the Downs and Kilmacanogue as the bright sunshine continued.

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