Eve Rowan guides us around the Dublin marathon course

Run­ners in the Dublin City Marathon will pass many places of his­tor­i­cal and ar­chi­tec­tural in­ter­est, writes Eve Rowan

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS -

The an­nual SSE Air­tric­ity Dublin Marathon takes place on Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 29th. As more than 20,000 hardy souls plod the 26.2 miles around the cap­i­tal, we look at some of the in­ter­est­ing his­tory and ar­chi­tec­ture they’ll pass on their way...

The marathon kicks off in Ge­or­gian Dublin. Fitzwilliam Square was built on or­chards and fields in the early 1800s. Sites were leased, of­ten to de­vel­op­ers, who built the houses to set cri­te­ria. Dublin was be­com­ing less me­dieval and more planned. This al­lows Fitzwilliam Street to ac­com­mo­date the 20,000- plus marathon con­tes­tants, shift­ing from foot to foot.

In a short mile, the run­ners will be in Dublin 8. This area was favoured by the Vik­ings and Nor­man set­tlers. It is a lot older and a lot newer than Dublin 2. Nearby, Dublin Cas­tle played a de­fen­sive role in the city from Vik­ing times un­til the 1920s.

Spare a glance for St Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral. The tower was built in 1362 and the spire added in 1749. The route will shortly pass a com­pet­ing cathe­dral – Christchurch. This was given a Gothic makeover in the 1870s, at which point the walk­way that reaches across the road was added.

The route weaves down to the river Liffey. It ap­proaches 15 Ush­ers Is­land, the last re­main­ing Ge­or­gian house in its row, where James Joyce si­t­u­ated his short story, The Dead. The house was owned by Joyce’s great aunts.

The Liffey was pre­vi­ously un­walled and in cer­tain parts, one could walk across at low tide. In the 17th cen­tury, parts of the river were re­claimed and the walls went up. The marathon crosses to the north­side on the James Joyce Bridge, which ap­peared in 1998. It is one of two Liffey bridges de- signed by Spa­niard San­ti­ago Cala­trava – the other is the Sa­muel Beck­ett Bridge, which is closer to the dock­lands.

This cross­ing trans­ports you to Stoney­bat­ter. The area is lower rise and charm­ing in many parts, and has wit­nessed suc­ces­sive in­va­sions by hip­sters. It gets roomier as you veer left onto Aughrim Street and on to­wards the North Cir­cu­lar Road, which was the M50 of its day.

Run­ners will then en­ter the Phoenix Park through gra­cious, white, iron gates. Garda head­quar­ters sit to the right and the perime­ter of Dublin Zoo on the left. Run­ners are sub­ject to the by- laws of the Phoenix Park Act 1925. So once they don’t rent any­one a chair, fish or play pitch and toss, they’ll be fine.

The route zig zags onto Ch­ester­field Av­enue, the main road through the park. It’s a long stretch and it re­quires a lit­tle en­durance, so al­low me to di­gress. Aside from mil­i­tary drills, the Phoenix Park was quite ne­glected un­til ar­chi­tect Dec­imus Bur­ton was en­gaged to put man­ners on it. En­trances and gate lodges were built, there was plant­ing and the cen­tral av­enue was im­posed. It was then given over to the Of­fice of Pub­lic Works in 1860. Our pres­i­den­tial home, Áras an Uachtaráin can be seen through a gap in the trees to the right, and the park’s fa­mous deer like to hang out in the copses around here.

The marathon ex­its the park and pro­ceeds to­wards Castle­knock be­fore kick­ing back to­wards town. There is a nice ru­ral out­look to the right, cour­tesy of Castle­knock Col­lege. The race re- en­ters the Phoenix Park, pro­ceeds along the south­ern flank and ex­its again.

The route then crosses the bridge into Chapeli­zod vil­lage. Typ­i­cally, six bus routes go from here to the fin­ish line. But not to­day. To­day it is about the peo­ple on the 10- toe turbo ex­press.

The route out of Chapeli­zod fea­tures an up­hill with ramps on St Lau­rence Road. The run­ners then head to­wards Inchicore and pass Kil­main­ham Gaol, which was op­er­a­tional as a prison from 1796 to 1924. The big gate­way ahead is the en­trance to the Ir­ish Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art, pre­vi­ously the Royal Hospi­tal Kil­main­ham. Fifty works by Lu­cien Freud are on view un­til 2021. No pres­sure on the con­tes­tants to pop in and visit, though.

The con­tinue on then, reach­ing South Cir­cu­lar Road ( or the South Squareue­lar, as it should be called). If you are lead­ing the race at this stage, re­mem­ber to turn right when you come to Dol­phin’s Barn. This takes you to Crum­lin Road – the half­way point.

The pop­u­la­tion of Dublin has been ris­ing since records be­gan. Much of Crum­lin ap­peared in the 1930s and 1940s to ac­com­mo­date this in­crease. Crum­lin con­tin­ued the Gar­den City ideal that be­gan in Marino. This plan en­vis­aged res­i­dents hav­ing room to grow veg­eta­bles in the back gar­den and flow­ers in the front. Ex­te­ri­ors in Fair City were filmed around Crum­lin be­fore a set was built in RTÉ HQ at Mon­trose.

At the whop­per round­about, take the first exit, which brings you to Walkin­stown, where the air is clear. Keep her lit un­til the Top garage at the Kim­mage- Crum­lin Cross- roads. Ever won­der where the KCR is? Run the Dublin marathon and you will find out.

In due course, the race reaches Tem­pleogue and Terenure. The area be­came in­creas­ingly pop­u­lous in the 1980s and An Post sought to in­tro­duce a new post code. They had first be­gun to use post­codes 20 years pre­vi­ously, start­ing with nine dis­tricts. The sug­ges­tion was to re­des­ig­nate parts of Dublin 6 to Dublin 26. Some lo­cals ob­jected and Dublin 6W was born.

Fol­low the yel­low brick road and you will come to Terenure vil­lage, with its con­stituent rise in bou­tiques and es­tate agents. It’s a cu­ri­ous mix of hous­ing. Some of the red­bricks are chic fam­ily homes. Oth­ers are in flats.

Con­tin­u­ing on through Rath­gar you pass Or­well Park, a pic­ture- per­fect street of red­bricks. No 56 was listed for sale in Septem­ber, guid­ing at ¤ 2.3m. The green eaves at the T- junc­tion be­long to Tramway House, which was once the end point of the tram to

Run­ners are sub­ject to the by- laws of the Phoenix Park. So once they don’t rent any­one a chair, fish or play pitch and toss, they’ll be fine

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