Friday, 27 February 2015

Reclaiming the Ramparts. (A celebration and a rant!)

Way back in Autumn on a crisp Friday morning I went for a walk in one of my favourite places in Drogheda. The Ramparts walk which follows the banks of the river Boyne from St Dominic's Park to Oldbridge House. one of our most historic sites as it was here that two kings, one Dutch and one English would fight a battle, the memory of which would eventually command an incredible longevity in Irish history. That day was full of calm sunshine, everywhere there was inspiring colour.

The grass looks like a Farrow and Ball colour.

 I love the stone work on the old mill.

Hidden pockets of light and shadow.

 Turning to look back at the town, almost sepia.
The river looked beautiful, dressed in shifting alluring reflections and contrasts. In myth and legend, the river was Boyne created by the Goddess Boann who disobeyed her husband Nectain and channelled the power of his magic well so that the waters rose and surged all the way to the sea. But the waters drowned Boann and her faithful dog Dabilla.

This is the fourth river I have lived near and while the sea and the coast are my first loves, I love the slow drama of the riverbank. The Boyne is a tidal river and sometimes her moods are far from subtle. I love(d) the freedom of this walk, safe for the dog to be off-lead for long stretches and the promise of a lovely cup of coffee in the cafĂ© at Oldbridge House. Sometimes, you may be lucky to be accompanied by a seal, I had no idea these beautiful animals would venture so far into fresh water and was deliciously spooked one day when one raised a sleek grey head to study me. The colour that day has inspired another crochet blanket, about which I have written a little here.

However, I have avoided the Ramparts walk since then and that was due to a shocking incident a couple of weeks later when a female jogger was attacked by a man here at 9.00am. Horrifically, despite falling into the river, the man continued to attempt to assault this poor woman. Profound shock was replaced by anger when the response by the Guardi warning women not to walk or jog alone. The fallacy of this response was eloquently expressed by Una Mullany in the Irish Times here. No one has been arrested following the incident.

I was angry at the attacker, at the police and at myself  - for allowing this mans actions to influence my own behaviour. I love walking with other people but I need to walk alone. It gives me a chance to think or some times not to think.  For me, walking and pushing myself to walk greater distances can become almost a meditative experience. I had planned to eventually continue further and walk part of the Boyne Navigation Canal that ran to the town of Navan. So, I have been waiting for the moment to return and today which began frosty and light was the perfect morning.

By the time I had left the house though it was all grey! Look at the difference in the park,

The walk has now been closed thanks to a landslide at the Oldbridge end just where walkers are supposed to join the 800 000 euro boardwalk that is supposed to link these heritage areas. Here are our representatives congratulating themselves yet despite this critical investment for the area, the walkway has been inaccessible from the Drogheda end because the impotent council cannot seem to engineer a solution to the landslide or to bring to account one of the country's biggest developers who built a housing estate on the problematic land. I -on my own responsibility- ignored the closed signs as the majority of the walk is safe and probably the only public land in the locality which is both accessible by foot and where a dog can enjoy essential lead-free time.
Despite this shameful neglect of one of the prizes in our local environment and the fact that I couldn't continue I am glad I walked this route today. I put some demons to rest. Future plans for the area include a walk/cycle way from the Elizabethan Maiden Tower at coastal Mornington through Drogheda to Oldbridge eventually finishing at the UNESCO site of Bru Na Boinne. Wouldn't that be an amazing amenity for the area, so much more valuable to the needs of the local community and our very welcome tourists than yet another empty retail park?
If you have stayed to the end of this long post, thank-you so much. Have a fantastic weekend! Can you believe next week it will be March? xxxx


  1. Love the photographs. Ireland is such a beautiful country.

    1. Hi Dave, thanks for dropping by with such kind words. Ireland surely is a beautiful place. I do love living here -most of the time! :)

  2. I love the walk as well, as you know, and miss it now i'm back at work - at 9-10km roundtrip, its not a winter evenings walk! I'm looking forward to long summer evenings when I can do the walk again.
    As well as some decent land conservation measures, it would be nice if they took the time to put out some regular and doggy poo bins along the route, there is one at the start by the playground, and another up by the old house at Oldbridge... and nothing in between.
    I do hope that boardwalk out to mornington does happen, as its a beautiful area along there, but not walkable on the roads.
    And that lovely coffee and bun at Oldbridge is wonderful...

    1. Hey Mell, yes you really feel you have earned your cake and coffee after the walk out there! I agree the lack of dog bins and indeed litter bins along that route is another oversight, there seems to be clusters of bins in certain places in the town and a distinct absence in others. All the best.x

  3. What a horrible thing to happen, but I am glad you have got back out there and reclaimed the space. I know exactly what you mean about needing to walk alone. xx

    1. It is a very restorative activity. (I also like walking with my 3 chatterboxes too!) So nice to 'see' you CT, hope all is well with you. x