16 April 2011

A much-needed walk on a crescent-shaped beach

Sparkling rays of sunshine on the cove-like North Strand in Skerries late this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

I took a quick run out to Skerries this afternoon for my much-needed beach walk.

We parked on Strand Street, and dropped into Gerry’s to pick up the Guardian and into the Skerries Bookshop to pick up the special edition of the Skerries News, which looks at the way this community pulled together in the past week or two in the search for two missing fishermen, Ronan Browne and David Gilsenan.

From there, we went for a walk along the North Strand in front of Skerries Sailing Club and just beside the beautiful harbour and the walk-way leading to Red Island.

This pebbly, cove-like, crescent-shaped beach is 1.2 km in length, and on this breath-taking afternoon there was a clear view across to the Mountains of Mourne on the south Down coast.

We strolled back through the beautiful houses of Hoar Rock – some, it appears, built as if they were on Malibu Beach.

I was hoping to get back to the Olive on Strand Street, which has the best double espresso in Fingal. The café has extended its tables onto the pavement, adding to its capacity. But by now it was 6 p.m., and we had missed our opportunity for a late evening coffee.

The low tide made it possible to walk across to Shenick Island this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

At Holmpatrick, we stopped in amazement as we realised the low tide had left a virtual causeway out to Shenick Island and its Martello tower, as people, in twos and threes, were using the opportunity to walk over to the largest of the islands off Skerries.

Shenick Island gets its name from the Irish sionnach, meaning “a fox.” Standing at one end of the island is a Martello tower. In 1878, a war broke out between the farmers of Rush and Ian Hamilton, the landlord of Skerries. Traditionally, the farmers of Rush had gathered the seaweed on Island as a fertiliser for their crops, but Hamilton wanted them to pay for each load of seaweed they collected, built a wall to prevent them reaching the shore and blocked their route out to the island.

The poor farmers could have walked out this evening.

Shenick Island was bought by Lawrence McDonagh in 1917 and it was farmed by his family until the 1950s. Today its only inhabitants are seals on the western side of the island and a few different species of seabirds. Since 1987, the island has been run as a wildlife reserve by the Fingal branch of the Irish Wildbird Conservancy Council.

The laneway corner where the Revd Anthony Tanner was murdered in Loughshinny in 1741 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

From Skerries, we drove back to Loughshinny, to photograph the laneway where the Revd Anthony Tanner, Vicar of Holmpatrick and Balscadden, was murdered 270 years ago in 1741, and to retrace the Millennium Historic Walk, which we had walked a few weeks ago.

The sun was still shining on the Irish Sea as we drove south past Kenure towards Rush and Rogerstown.

I’m back in the area tomorrow morning [Sunday 17 April] for Morning Prayer in Holmpatrick Parish Church at 10.30 a.m. and Holy Communion in Saint George’s Church, Balbriggan, at 12 noon.


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