Cycling Through Time

On the first day of our school holidays, we made sure our bikes were ready for the long Summer
days ahead of them. Washed, tyres pumped, chain oiled, the dynamo working – in case you were out
late, the carrier on the back tested in case someone needed a lift. Day two would begin the daily
adventures round Fingal. We would cycle down Clifford’s lane, past St Colmcilles Church onto
Seatown Lane, collecting friends on the way, to Lissenhall Bridge or the Black Bridges as we knew
Jam jars, with bits of twine wrapped tightly around them, ready to be dropped into the flowing
waters of the Ward River, to catch minnows, tiny little fish, some only the size of tadpoles, the jar
would be retrieved and we would watch them swim around. As the summer went on, the minnows
would get bigger and we felt very accomplished in our fishing skills. We would try our best to count
them, as we sat on the banks of the river and ate our first picnic of the day. Once released back to
the wild, we would head off again.
As we cycled east along the lane, we were encompassed by a canopy of leafy sycamore trees that
seemed to wish to cross to the other side of the riverbank. To our left were ancient stone walls,
engulfed by ivy, which defended Lissenhall Demesne. To our young imaginations we imagined rich
queens living there, and a secret garden we would never see. Onwards under ash, beech and birch
trees older than time itself, we went, beside waters where rebels once passed, Vikings once bathed
in, and from under this awning of trees we arrived at the mouth of a beautiful estuary. Still waters
rippled by mute swans, ducks, and gulls, expanding to Malahide, on our right and onwards to
Donabate and Lambay Island to our left. We felt like Columbus finding the new world, but it was our
world. We always brought the stale bread and threw it out to the swans, who would elegantly glide
to retrieve their feast, jostling with ducks to get to the pieces first. From our vantage point we would
gaze across the estuary to Malahide, the train line stretching across the water joining North to
Then the real adventure began, onwards along the estuary, past the farms, and two old pillars, to
the crossing point to Kilcrea, a narrow road that disappeared when the tide was in. Once the tide was
out, we would cycle full whack in case Mother Nature was to try and make us swim. Some days
the tide would lap at the tyres and we would splash through, some days it would be up to the pedals
and we would chance it. Once we got across we would head through Kilcrea for the New Road or to
the beach, spend the day by the Martello tower, racing in and out of the sea, dipping our toes, until
eventually we went swimming. Always stopping for a 99 ice cream on the way out of the village at
The Emerald Shop.
From our base in Swords we spent the summer travelling the lanes and back ways to tour Fingal,
and all its beaches and rivers. A peninsula rich in sea and land. We had the glory of passing castles,
and round towers, the twist and turns of Irelands history was around us. Each day a new destination,
and by the end of August we knew our townland well and where to buy the best ice cream.