Childhood Memories of The Dodder

The river Dodder played a huge part in my childhood, as it did for many others. I moved into
my grandparents’ home in O’Connell Gardens with my parents and sister when I was six
years old. Most of my youth was spent on the Dodder bank with my neighbours and friends.
My back garden wall was the boundary with the Dodder. Me and my friends would climb up
the wall to the grass bank during the school holidays and play there.
I would often go to the Dodder in my oversized, faded pink wellington boots with my
friends. We used to climb down the grassy verge, paddle in the freezing water and splash
around. The older kids in my area attached a rope to a branch of an old willow tree which
was overhanging the river and hung an old car tyre from it. We would stand on the old river
wall, holding the rope, and lean back to give ourselves some momentum, then launch
ourselves out and jump so we would land on the tyre and out over the river. This seemed
risky to us at the time because if a friend failed to catch you on the return swing, you could
be left hanging over the river. The more daring would run along the wall so the rope swung
in a circle and brought you back to the wall. You could keep running and swinging out in
larger circles as the speed of the swing increased. Of course, sometimes one of us fell and
would have to face the music when they got home. You’d get a lecture about not playing on
a dangerous swing and instructions to stay away from the river.
When the tide was low we would catch small flat fish and minnows with a net and put them
in jam jars until it was time to go. Then we would empty the jar into the water. Looking
back, this makes it seem like a pointless exercise, but I remember the excitement of catching
more fish than your friends.
Times such as these, spent with friends on the banks of the Dodder, are among my fondest