I don’t consider myself an ocean person. I grew up in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is on the Pacific Ocean, but I never feel as though I grew up in a “sea town” or “by the ocean.” We didn’t live that close to the ocean so that is the obvious reason I feel that way, and Los Angeles is a huge city that also includes hills and canyons. Dublin is a much smaller city, but it is also right on a sea and it also has hills within its boarders. In both cities, though, I am always amazed at how different they feel when you are beside the sea. The city changes completely.
For the first time last Monday I went for a walk on the South Wall. The Wall boarders the entrance way to Dublin Port, the Liffey, the Grand Canal and the Royal Canal. It runs out beyond the famous red and white striped smoke stacks to a squat red light house at the tip. The views stretch from the Bray to Howth, including Bull Island and the Wicklow Mountains.
We walked on a foggy morning when the clouds couldn’t quite decide whether to take off or hang around. It’s always blowy on the Irish Sea. Dublin looked like it was behind a veil; for some of the walk we couldn’t even see it sitting there quietly just inland. As we got back to the smoke stacks, I could just make out the dramatic Beckett Bridge and Custom House on the quays. A few big ferries that were not in use idled in their giant slips.
The South Wall is not as busy as Dun Laoghaire pier, though the walks are similar. It is not as easy to get to; you really need a car. Happily we were invited on the walk by a friend who not only can drive but was also in possession of a car for the day. We drove out past the scrap yards and energy plants to the edge of Dublin. It is odd to be behind the giant smoke stacks; to see them from a different angle. It is wonderful to be at the lighthouse and to be facing right into Dublin, right at it’s centre.
Even though Dublin is a fraction of the size of Los Angeles, it’s face can change just as completely depending on where you see it from.