25 April 2011

An afternoon by a harbour and an evening of poetry and song

Bulloch Castle rising above Bulloch Harbour in Dalkey (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

The past eight days – from Palm Sunday to Easter Day – are the busiest eight days in the life of any priests.

Over the past eight days, I have delivered twelve addresses or sermons; travelled through 11 counties (in three provinces); taken part in nine services; visited six churches and three cathedrals; and wrote for one newspaper.

By Sunday afternoon I was tired. After the Choral Festal Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral, five of us went to lunch, and then two of us drove along the south Dublin suburban coastline, through Sandymount, Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey and Killiney.

In Dalkey, we stopped for a brief time at Bulloch Harbour, beneath Bulloch Castle on Ulverton Road, which is now part of Our Lady’s Manor Nursing Home. The sunshine we had enjoyed for the previous week was beginning to fade, but the walk around the harbour made up for the beach walks I had missed for the past week.

There were plenty of people playing around in boats in Bulloch Harbour, and a few seals off the harbour wall were the centre of attraction until five divers arrived in wet suits.

Diving off the harbour wall at Bulloch Harbour on Sunday afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Bulloch Harbour is said to take its name either from the Scandinavian for “Blue Haven” or the Gaelic word for a tidal blow hole in the rocks.

The land at Bulloch was owned from early mediaeval times by the Cistercian monks of Saint Mary’s Abbey in Dublin. Bulloch Castle was built in the 12th century to protect their fishing rights, and the castle can be dated to about 1150 with the use of curved pointed arches mixed with the older round arches.

A small town grew up around the castle, and although Bulloch Castle was built for defence, it was also used as an inn for the cross-channel traffic that flowed through Dalkey ten Ireland’s main port.

In 1402, Prince Thomas of Lancaster, the king’s son, landed at Bulloch as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and in 1559 the Earl of Sussex landed there as Lord Deputy. At the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, the Cistercian Abbey of Saint Mary’s was dissolved, and Bulloch Castle passed into private ownership, first to the Fagan family. From the close of the 16th century, Dalkey went into decline as a cross-channel port. On a hill above Bulloch Harbour, Saint Patrick’s, the Church of Ireland parish church in Dalkey, dates from 1843.

From Dalkey, we continued out to Ashford in Co Wicklow, where friends were celebrating their silver wedding anniversary. In the garden nearby, half a dozen guinea fowl were strutting along the wall. But in our friends’ house, it was an evening of music, song poetry and story-telling.

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