The Broadmeadow Estuary

The Broadmeadow Estuary between Swords and Malahide is a natural amenity that attracts a
lot of visitors daily. Growing up in Swords in the late fifties it was the place my parents often
took me for a walk, to see and feed the swans, to meet my Uncle Denis, togged out in his
waders as he stood thigh high in the water fishing contentedly with his pals and to watch as
people water skied, marvelling at their skill as they demonstrated their prowess. It was
another world, full of the wonder of nature, a rustic experience at the edge of our town that
attracted many families to visit it in the days before a television set was a feature in every
home. In the summertime we went there for picnics, my Mam would meet her friends with
their children, and we would spend our afternoons playing, collecting shells and fishing with
our nets before putting our minnows into jam jars. We would paddle in the water, and as we
got older, we swam there too. It was as near to idyllic as a child could get to in North County
Dublin. Winter too had its own charm, as we wrapped up warmly to go feed the swans and
collect chestnuts from the small copse of trees at the edge of the estuary. The high tides were
another exciting aspect for us children. These occurred from Autumn to late Spring. A few of
my classmates at the time used to have to leave school early to avoid them to get home safely
before the water rose and made the roads impassable. The rest of us were always a little
envious of this, having no idea of the inconvenience and possible danger for those involved.
Today it looks a little different, but it still attracts people from all over. The grass is now
better maintained and there are footpaths and seating for all to enjoy the experience. The
water skiing has not been a feature for many years though some people enjoy the more sedate
skill now of sailing small boats, indeed there are two sailing clubs now in operation on the
estuary. It is also ideal for those who enjoy windsurfing. Fishing also seems to be on the
wane with only the occasional person trying their luck, though walking along its banks the
fish can be seen jumping regularly. The birdlife is spectacular and each day there will be
someone there birdwatching for hours, they always seem to want to share their experience of
letting you see what they are observing, which is wonderful. Watching the mute swans as
they carry their cygnets on their backs is still as thrilling for me as it was over sixty years ago.
Brent geese are another regular visitor along with Mallards, Redshanks, and the occasional
Kingfisher. But it is in the last few months that the real benefit of the estuary and its
surrounds have come into their own as many more people are now appreciating this area of
natural beauty that is on their doorstep. Surprisingly, a lot of newer residents were unaware of
how amazing it is. Many who were working long hours have now discovered the estuary as
they are confined to staying within five kilometres of their home. Children along with their
parents are finding a new natural world of adventure and fun. A walk along the
Broadmeadow estuary not only stretches your legs and your mind but it also encourages you
to look again at nature and marvel at its ability to free your mind and reactivate your energy.