Journal Volume 7 2013

Greystones and its environs: a personal view (continued/1)


This north shore is steep and pebbly, but as the tide falls, easy to walk upon. It extends two miles, passing the “Gap”, where a stream and a winding lane come down from the country to the sea, and terminating in the “Red Rocks,” at the foot of Bray Head. The view, looking northwards from Greystones, is unsurpassable for grace and beauty. To the right is the Irish sea, along the horizon of which, at night, the Kish Light is visible. As the eye travels northwards, Lambay Island is first discerned, then Howth, then Dalkey Island and Killiney. Bray Head stands out nobly in the centre of the picture; its height from its sea line to its summit, and the beautiful sweep of its outlines against the sky, are seen better from this point than from any other. Next, as we turn westward, are Windgates Hill and Little Sugar Loaf, also most graceful in its shoulders and its sweep. Great Sugar Loaf presents the outline of a perfect cone of gray cold rock behind, and Kendlestown Hill, Bellevue, and the Downs Hill may be said to terminate the picture on the west. Southwards from the platform of rocks another beautiful beach extends for miles, that portion of it bounded by Drommin Hill ... being called by the fishermen the South Shore. Every break, every nook and cranny of the rocks had its appropriate name – “the flagstaff rocks”, “the sofa”, “the bathing strand”, “the drawing-room”, “the amphitheatre”, “the hermitage”, and so on. Looking down upon it from the country, Greystones does not present any features very striking or attractive. It looks bleak and bare. But the views, in every direction looking from the place, are beautiful, and it is no wonder that it has since become a favourite summer resort. Its aspect now is quite changed. The sea has made considerable inroads; the railway has made its way along the coast; and, instead of a few fishermen’s huts, we find a goodly number of substantial cottages and houses. To Greystones the family resorted every summer for many years, and their stay was usually three or four months. In 1838 some kind friends in the York Street Church took and furnished the cottage at the extreme point by the flagstaff looking northwards, (which the coastguard officer, Captain Curtis, had occupied,) for the use of their pastor and his family; and many happy summers were spent there ... The change was most refreshing, from the noise and dust of the city to the calm and quiet of this resort.


Greystones Rocks

Some 'rocks' in Greystones

On Sundays, Mrs Urwick usually took the children to the Independent (afterwards Presbyterian) Chapel at Bray, and sometimes to Delgany Church, where the holy and gentle William Cleaver ministered ... He usually had two curates ... one of whom held a homely cottage service at Windgates on Sunday evenings; and when Dr Urwick spent the Sabbath at Greystones, he conducted a service in one of the cottages there, and preached frequently in the open air at the flagstaff. Greystones became to Dr Urwick ... one centre of his local and domestic affections ... There it was he found rest and refreshment after the excitement of a city pastor’s life; there it was that he enjoyed that thorough relaxation which he so much needed, in strolls with his children along the shores or up the mountains, or in boating excursions to the caves round Bray Head, to Killiney, or to Wicklow; or in moonlight walks to see the fishermen seining, or in watching their excitement during the mackerel season; or in occasional longer expeditions by car to the Dargle, the Devil’s Glen, the Seven Churches, or Lough Bray.


Devils Glen Cottage

Cottage in the Devil's Glen

Thither, even to the end of his life, he loved to go, if it were only for a day, to enjoy the bracing sea and mountain air, and to revive sweet memories of happy times gone by, and with his grandchildren to live over again those earlier days.


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