Writer Joseph O’Connor is also Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick, he lives in Dublin with his wife Anne-Marie Casey and their two sons.
“One of my favourite walks in Ireland is a circuit, and so it can be begun at many points, but let’s say you start out in Dalkey village, a lovely place in itself, with a coffee from Mugs, Thyme Out or the Country Bake, maybe a delicious sandwich in your pocket from The Grapevine or a book from that truly wonderful bookshop, The Gutter.
"Heading out of the village and onto the descent of Coliemore Road, you have the sea on your left, then Dalkey island with its Martello tower and ruined fort and ancient chapel of Saint Begnet, the magnificent view across the whole sweep of the bay and the expanse of the sky.
“Often, ships are passing in the distance, and the bird life is astonishing. My wife and I have seen dolphins near the little harbour, where it’s possible to hire a boat and head out to the island, and seals are a frequent sight.
"The walk is hilly enough to be good exercise if you want it to be, and if you take it at pace, and of course you can add a further circuit if you’re feeling ambitious, the gorgeous Vico Road, past Hawk Cliff, up to Killiney village.
“But for now: Further along on the left of Coliemore Road, you have the glory of Dillon’s Park, where it’s nice to stop and read, and, across the road from it, on a furzy hill, another park whose name I have never been certain about, full of outcropping granite. Perhaps it’s simply Coliemore Park. It contains a memorial plaque to the great composer John Dowland, who was born nearby, and whose melancholy Elizabethan lyrics I love.
“The coconut aroma of the gorse bushes is an amazing thing, on a summer’s day, and the view down to the Wicklow Hills, past Bray and even Greystones, is a sight to make the heart soar.
“Heading back towards the village by Sorrento Road takes you parallel with the train track, which has its own music, and the wildflowers on the banks are stunning.
“High on a hill is a cluster of apartments in the grounds of an old hotel. I have always been fond of them because I worked on the building site there, in the summer I turned 16, making tea for the bricklayers and doing odd jobs.
“So, it’s a walk through memory as well as beauty. I feel very blessed that it’s part of my life.”
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