Science & Nature
Try this one if you are wanting to trade surplus energy for a changing selection of some of the finest views in County Wicklow. You should choose a bright day, but, unusually for Wicklow, you don't have to worry too much about conditions underfoot – except for short sections at either end, you can walk it dry-shod.
In 1807 Sir Simon Taylor sent a printed and hand coloured Valentine card to Lady Sophia Fitzgerald. The card depicts Cupid and a female figure, possibly Venus, who holds his quiver of arrows, within a border of floral garlands, hearts and arrows. It is embellished with metallic sequins and carries the verse, "Cease my fond Passion to reprove, for Beauty's force can fetter Love". Handwritten at the top of the card are the words, "Roses Red and Violets Blue, Carnations Sweet and so are You." Inside the card is a further handwritten verse,
Ivy-clad trees, beech, oak, pines and laurel provide extra shelter. In season, the path is paved with pine needles and fir cones. Below the path, drops from overhanging trees make distinctive sand patterns in contrast to the wave-swept outer shore. Warning signs indicate that the strand is unsuitable for swimming and that the rocks and cliffs are dangerous. Visitors enter at their own risk, so take care.
By 1864, growing numbers made a larger building necessary. The congregation acquired a site on what was then Rutland Square, and took the 'Abbey' name with them. A prospering grocer and wine merchant, Alexander Findlater (1797-1873), whose shops were prominent in O'Connell Street and Rathmines into the 1970s, paid for the Gothic revival church building. Dubliners called it "Findlater's Church". A large memorial window containing texts from the Beatitudes, on an ornamental background, was erected to him by the grateful congregation. His portrait hangs in the small tower.
One of these bears the inscription "This stone erected by Owen Donnelly in memory of Danill Donnelly who died 17 April,1722 aged 100 years. Also of Catherine Donnelly who died 2 July, 1789 aged 17 years".
So it is not surprising that over Christmas and New Year, this track turns into a pilgrimage route dedicated to counteracting over-indulgence. Most years, the weather assists by putting on a penitential air. The day we chose was fairly leaden, but most parking spaces were already taken when we arrived, and the early birds were already striding (or in some cases running) down.
So it was great to find that Ireland has the perfect climate for the staghorn. It can grow, quite rapidly, up to 25 feet tall and spread to about 15 feet. Very manageable. It is really a good all rounder in that it looks delicately pretty in spring, with intense colour in summer and completely magnificent, with colours ranging from yellow, orange, red, dark red to almost purple in autumn, up until mid-November in fact. As well as its leaves, though, it has a magnificent crimson, pyramidal spiky fruit, which stands up on the leaves and outlasts them through December.
Anywhere but your garden, where its fallen leaves lay in wait for the unsuspecting bare foot in summer, lacerating the soles.
The site of the present church began as a Franciscan friary in 1235, hence the name Francis Street. Suppressed by Henry VIII, it re-emerged in penal times as Dublin's metropolitan Catholic Church. The archbishops often lived here. Up until the late 19th century it formed one parish with the Isle of Man.