Exploring My Neighbourhood

We’ve all been living #StayatHome and while it’s been limiting and taken us all some adjusting to, in many ways there have been positives. For me I’ve enjoyed so much being able to continue training on foot and bike. Adapting to the 2km limits has made it surprisingly interesting, resurrecting a curiosity in what’s on my doorstep. No mindless long cycles with traffic whizzing by. Instead discovering a wealth of new things in my backyard. Here are some memories.

Hoods

My long runs have turned into Ordnance Survey mapping exercises on Strava. I’ve tried cover every lane, street, close, avenue, drive and wood in each neighborhood. Twisting through housing estates in Ballyogan. Ogling at nice houses in Foxrock. Finding studs and farms in Carrickmines. Wondering how many houses are in stepaside?

2km Limits

There’s a handy website which plots your 2km radius from home in all directions. It’s been lovely to think about how much exercise you can fit into such geographic constraints. Is it as the crow flies or must it be on navigable tarmac? I chose the former to get more liberty. I’ve managed 23km runs around Foxrock, plus I’ve got up to 31 kilometers on my bike lap around Kilternan, Leopardstown and down to Cornelscourt. So many back and forths, but always moving forward.

Local History

I’d love to do a tour with a knowledgeable local. There are the ruins of Carrickmines Castle, hidden between roundabouts off the M50. I happened across Foxrock train station – now a car park beside Leopardstown Racecourse. It was part of the Harcourt – Wexford line. The Luas now uses a similar route. The pretty blue wooden church in Kilternan and is also worth a stop. I also wonder what this part of County Dublin looked like before the M50 and Luas arrived?

Embassies

The diplomatic corp need somewhere nice to live. In your car you just wouldn’t notice them as you fly through Foxrock. The fluttering flag above some residences makes you think “is that Morocco or Lesotho?” Others just have a brass nameplate on the gates: Egypt House, Seoul Manor. Some seriously nice houses: Iran is doing well, as is the Netherlands.

Fauna and Flora

Spring is thriving. Tulips and daffodils brighten up gardens. Cherry blossoms line streets. Wild garlic and nettles are spotted for my next pesto inspired foraging trip. The birds are constantly chirping: blackbirds, sparrows and tits. At sunrise I pass rabbits scattering into the ditch.

Mansions

Some seriously nice houses around. Some have garages bigger than my house. I’ve seen indoor pools, tennis courts, manicured gardens with statues and all sorts of fancy cars: Bentley, Ferrari, Maserati.

People

Reclaim our streets. It’s been so great to see parents with kids all safely out for a cycle. Walkers all over the road – social distancing at its best. Runners aplenty – many newbies as they can’t go to their indoor gym classes. Then there’s people at home – gardening, painting walls, squinting at laptops on the balcony.

Gaeilge

I must figure out origins and meanings of our local place names. Baile Uí Ógáin, Carraig an tSionnaigh, An Chéim, Cill Tiarnáin, Cúirt Choirnéil, Baile an Lobhar.

House Names

How do people pick a name for their house or even a housing estate? There are some lovely Irish ones: Dalriada, Dun Aonghus, Carraig Dun. Some Italian/Latin influences: San Marco, Bellavista. Scottish: Kinloch. English: Swynnerton. Spanish: Calima. The last one sparks my curiosity, as it as it’s a word for a big dust cloud from the Sahara, which effects the Canary Islands. I wonder does the homeowner have good or bad memories of Tenerife?

Weather

I’ve been out from dawn to dusk. The early morning is my favorite, to see the sunrise over Killiney Hill. I get out for a short run in the still, chilly air most mornings. We’ve been so fortunate to have long periods of dry, still air with blue skies. Then in in the evening sun there’s been a warmth for my walks. Just birdsong and empty Luas’ in the background.

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