When I moved to Ireland, I was totally convinced that I would have visitors every month or so because surely everyone would want to see Ireland! However, I have only had ONE visitor in the year since I arrived. He was surely enchanted by the wonders of Glendalough and its old monastic city, but mostly he was fascinated by the River Poddle. In fact, last time I spoke with him on the phone, it was the first thing he asked about, “And how’s the River Poddle?” he asked.
“Wet! As usual,” I replied snarkily.
“Ah, the soul of Dublin,” he reminisced.
I gave him a hard time about this statement, but it didn’t stop me from wondering about it. Well, why shouldn’t the River Poddle (“known colloquially as the river Salach, or “dirty river” in Irish”, from Wikipedia) be the soul of Dublin? His fascination with it arises from the fact that he has a proper river in his back yard, wider and deeper than a hundred Poddles. And from the elaborate bridges constructed to cross this itty bitty stream of muddy water.
It has everything it needs, an important history (drinking water for early Dubliners), a transformation (mostly being paved under and over), and most importantly, a wikipedia page! The only thing the River Poddle needs is a resurrection, and then it would be the perfect hero’s journey.
The full length of the River Poddle (above ground), from its head waters in Tymon Lake, to where it disappears underground in Mt. Argus Park, approximately 4km.
This Saturday past, I had a plan to go for a long ride in the Wicklow Mountains, and to give the tiny video camera my sister gave me for Christmas a trial run. But I’ve had a bad cold that settled in my lungs last week and after I did the steep climb up to the Dublin bay panorama view, I sat down on a rock and promptly hacked up what seemed like most of my left lung. So I surrendered my plans for a long, rigorous mountain ride and regrouped at home.
Instead, I decided to conduct an on foot investigation of the length of the River Poddle, which I faithfully share with you here. It’s not as straightforward as it may seem, as there are a lot of walls and row houses in Dublin, which are difficult to navigate in straight lines. My path was therefore more of a long meandering, rediscovering and losing the Poddle at intervals. I hope you tag along!
There is even a little urban park dedicated to the River Poddle (Poddle Park). It is a total of 252 m (827ft) long and 60 m (197ft) wide at it widest point. My adventure started here.
No room for fakers!
A lot of elaborate bridges for such a tiny water way
There are a lot of walls in and around the Poddle
Blurry photo of this cute grey wagtail
Love these wood pigeons
Can you believe things are already flowering here??
In spite of the apparent urbanisation of the Poddle, I saw a decent amount of wildlife along the way. In addition to the birds photographed below, I saw a dead badger (which I did not photograph), what was either a very fox-like dog or a very dog-like fox, and a delicate kestrel at eye level just a couple of meters away that I was not swift enough to photograph (it was gorgeous though). If there are fish or amphibians in the River Poddle, I did not see them, and it did have a large volume of rubbish within it and dog poo along its banks (usually not ideal for amphibians).
Continuing north of the Poddle Park
Sorry I got distracted by this amazing fence
The elaborate bridges of the Poddle
Black headed gulls
The first honeybee of the year for me, landing briefly on a rock wall
The next park where the Poddle features prominently is Mt. Argus, where I found plenty of birds
I love the light and colour in this photo
Pretty Mt. Argus park
The fence looks great in the shadows
My favourite photo from this gallery
According to its wikipedia page, this is the tongue, where the River Poddle splits in two and goes underground until it empties into the Liffey
Alders already flowering
This was as far as I could follow it to the north
So I began to follow it south again, but of course, though the above ground part of the Poddle is only about 4km, I walked more than 16 km in and around neighborhoods trying to follow it, so I started running out of daylight.
The Poddle is behind walls and fences for much of its length through the neighborhoods…there’s a pond on the map here, but I couldn’t find a way past all the walls!
I picked it up again in this neighborhood
And found another elaborate bridge for a waterway I could hop over, haha
Pretty sure I’m in private property now
Once again, you have to go out to the main road and double back to find the Poddle farther south
Getting very dark now haha, but I’ve made it to where the River Poddle empties into Tymon Lake on its southern end
Annnndd I’m out of daylight, but you’ve seen Tymon Lake before 😉
I suppose I have to agree with my friend now…the River Poddle IS the soul of Dublin!