Suburban Dublin: By the river through the meadows.
Our walk starts beside Morton’s pub in Firhouse at the cottage tea rooms. From 9.30am the tea rooms are open and offer breakfast and brunch. Firhouse and the tea rooms are accessible in thirty minutes from Dublin city centre by local bus routes numbers 49 and 65B, and also from and to Dun Laoghaire by the number 75. The tea rooms describe themselves as an eccentric and delightfully quirky cottage with home baked food, and log and turf fires.
Maybe it’s a Dublin thing, but all outdoor excursions begin with a rest, so once refreshed, our trail begins by taking an immediate left at the pub down to the weir of the river Dodder (An Dothra)
The Dodder’s source is Kippure in the Wicklow Mountains and it flows through the Dublin South suburbs until it joins the Liffey with the Grand Canal near Ringsend. The Dodder served as a water supply for the local area in the 17th and 18th centuries and supported all the mills now since disused.
Temperatures at this time of year vary and can be from 8-15 degrees on average. Ireland gets a bad reputation when it comes to weather, possible because the weather can be very changeable. From November to April you can experience four season’s in one day however the average number of wet days, (days with more than 1mm of rain), ranges from about 150 days a year along the east and south-east coasts, which is actually less than half.
Mallard, grey heron, kingfisher, dipper, coot, moorhen, grey wagtail, and mute swan; the sparrow hawk nests in the trees lining the riverbanks. The red fox is common along the riverbank and the badger and otter have also been seen. In recent years a small feral population of mandarin ducks has become established. It was reported in 2013 that an Irish Wildlife Trust survey found otters living along the Dodder.
Fish present in the river include brown trout, sea trout, stone loach, three – spined stickleback, and European eel. Atlantic salmon can also be found in the river’s lower course.
Exit at Spawell Complex, Cherryfield Way/Hillcrest, turn left and walk along the motorway crossing at the lights near the roundabout where you will find one of the oldest recorded freestanding remains of a church in Ireland. Reported as a ruin in 1615, the remaining ruins of the chapel in Templeogue graveyard are that of a chapel erected in 1273 to replace the inaccessible chapel of Kilsantan.
By now it’s just after lunch and from 3pm you can choose from the varied and tasty menu at Darcy McGee’s in the Spawell complex and if you are still feeling active, in the same complex enjoy the driving range at Carr Golf before returning to the city centre on the 150 bus which departs on the same side of the road as the complex where the bus stop is just outside the main gate.