Last weekend I took a day trip to Limerick to attend the party of the year – the first birthday party for my nephew. While at home I found a newspaper which contained an article listing the top 30 walks to do in Ireland. I had done all the Dublin recommendations. With one exception – the Castleknock to Leixlip walk along the Royal Canal.
As I had a day off from work today I decided to rectify that. Donning my lovely new t-shirt, I took the train to the leafy suburb of Castleknock – a place so salubrious that Lidl was denied planning permission to build a supermarket there some years ago, as it would lower the tone of the neighbourhood.
I set forth. According to the article the distance between Castleknock and Leixlip was about twelve kilometres and the walk should take just over two hours. Upon arrival I planned to have lunch and then get the train back to dirty Dublin. ~
It was all very pleasant. The sun was shining,, it was warm, it felt like summer was approaching. I was surprised by how urban the route seemed – with houses and flats up to the greenway. People were friendly – many said hello as I passed – particularly those with dogs. With one exception. Now I am well aware that one should not make judgements on people based on their appearance. The woman approaching had a certain look. A face as chemically orange as Donald Trump, she was of middle years, with make-up trowelled on to her jowly face. The wine coloured hair was short and spiked on one side and in a bob covering her ears on the other side. She looked unhappy and mean. Her dog was doing a poo by the waterside, and when he finished she looked at the poo, then looked at me with a sneer, and carried on her way without picking it up. I guess sometimes appearances can be accurate.
After an hour’s walk there was still no end to the urban sprawl. The canal walk was pretty but I’d been expecting more greenery.
What was this massive warehouse in front of me I wondered? As I approached I could make out the sign on the side of it – it was the Broombridge Tram Depot. In my wisdom I had taken the wrong direction when I disembarked at Castleknock. I was almost back in the city centre. You might wonder why it didn’t dawn on me to take the canal route in the direction that the train was traveling – out of town. I perhaps ought to have twigged something when the canal lock numbers were getting smaller as I continued my journey. If Castleknock was lock 12 then it would be logical that the next lock would be 13 if I was heading away from town, rather than 11. I simply didn’t notice.
My wrong direction didn’t bother me. I had never done this walk either so it was a new experience.
Feeling peckish, and seeing as I was in the neighbourhood I made my way to the Gravediggers Pub beside Glasnevin Cemetery for my first ever bowl of coddle. Coddle is a type of soup I guess. A soup of boiled sausages, rashers, potatoes,and onions, seasoned with salt and pepper. It is an old Dublin dish, usually home made, which has fallen out of fashion. I felt quite the working class Dublin hero while eating it – I didn’t let on that I was from outside the Pale – my glamourous Limerick origins are unimportant.
It may sound unappetising but the coddle from the Gravediggers was delicious. I ordered mine at 2.50pm – ten minutes before lunch was finished. At 3.05 the chef Seamus gave me another bowl for free as it was left in the pot. He told me that he’d once had a customer who’d told him that his Granny’s coddle was better than Seamus’s because her bowls were bigger. I’d been walking for ninety minutes. I finished both bowls.
After my traditional Dublin lunch, I made my way to the Botanic Gardens to have a wander.
Home again I can honestly say that this Good Friday was a good Friday.