Autumn – Conker Season!

 In Blog

Courtesy of HorganLynch

We have had an reasonably good Irish summer and so far (with the exception of today) we are still enjoying some fabulous summery skies and weather warm enough so as not to need a sweater or jacket.  Chatting about autumn with various friends an in depth discussion arose about the actual date that autumn begins.  The Autumn Equinox starts on 23 September and the Meteorological Autumn begins on the 1st September.  One could add a third equation; most people believe autumn begins when the children are back in school.  You can take your pick and decide yourself.

Associated with autumn are mellow yellow days when the leaves are turning.  Many of them are shedding copious amounts of leaves on a daily basis.  Both adults and children love to kick leaves and of course one cannot mention autumn without talking about the all important horse chestnut trees and the wonderful game of ‘conkers’.  Last weekend when visiting Farmleigh House in the Phoenix Park I saw quite a few early birds collecting their treasure troves of these glossy brown nuts.  I was attending a talk by David Hicks in the Gallery of Farmleigh where I absorbed a completely different treasure trove in the form of some interesting history about portraits from Ireland’s great Irish Country Houses.  A fascinating lecture and very informative.

So aside from the magnificent Phoenix Park where else can you go to collect your ‘conkers’ and scatter leaves in childish abandon.  Several Dublin parks and gardens come to mind such as St. Anne’s in Raheny; the Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin; St. Stephen’s Green and the Iveagh Gardens.  My favourite has to be the one where I always went as a child – Herbert Park.  This park is cut in half by the road so you can choose which side you prefer.  For this venture I would choose the side with the duck pond.  Over the last few decades so many places lost ash and chestnut trees to nasty bacteria’s and parasites.  Ash dieback is extremely prevalent now throughout the country  This is such a shame as it causes problems for our hurley stick makers as well as losing some of our wonderful trees.  Our park keepers are some of the best in the world and they have done their best to save as many as possible and have an excellent re-planting programme.  Herbert Park is managed by Dublin City Council whilst other parks and gardens come under the auspices of the OPW (Office of Public Works).  The OPW is not only a functioning state agency but an excellent one.

The Herbert Park Hotel overlooks this gorgeous park and has excellent rates with attractive discounts if booking directly on their website.  Alternatively, if you are just a local you could try their dining room for a nice meal as it nestles right into the park and their menu is pretty enticing as well.

Why wait until the 23rd September?  I am of the opinion that as soon as the leaves start falling then take it that autumn has arrived and fashionable autumnal strolls in our wonderful parks are already on the menu.  By the time Halloween comes around in late October we are well on our way towards the darker nights and colder days.  It is then definitely time to put on the woolly sweaters and put away the flip flops until next year.  Maybe try for an odd weekend break away in places such as Renvyle House Hotel in Connemara or The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge in Tipperary.

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