The Sound of Gravel Underfoot

You come here because you like the sound of gravel. Silly, really. A grown woman, moved to happiness by the sound of stones.

Still. You like gravel. Always have. You like how it crunches underfoot; calls attention to itself. You like how it slows you down, discourages speed and carelessness.  You can walk slowly here and not be in anyone’s way.

You remember visiting your aunt when you were young, the crunch of tyres as you turned onto her gravel driveway. You remember the dust that rose behind the car; hung for a moment in low clouds before dissipating into the country air.

When I grow up, you thought, I’ll have a gravel driveway. But you’ve lived in nine houses already. Still, no gravel driveway.

And so you come to this park, choose the path that leads away from Hatch Street, away from offices and restaurants. You walk along the perimeter (crunch, crunch), past the fountains, past the open lawn and the benches that surround it. You know you could sit in the sun, but you prefer to walk in the shade. You turn left. The park is quieter here, less busy.

You stop to look at an oak tree, its leaves dappled in the morning light. Beside the oak, a birch sapling. You stand for a long time in front of the sapling. Its peeling bark makes you ache. You would like to touch it gently, press it back into place.

A man walks across the grass, whistles to his dog.

You turn back towards Hatch Street, glance at the office blocks that loom above the park’s brick wall. Inside the offices, people you don’t know are making phone calls and writing emails. At lunchtime, they’ll bring their coffee and sandwiches into the park, stretch out on the grass or find a seat beside the fountain.

The gravel will crunch under their feet, too.  Leave the same cloud of dust in their wake.

iveaghblog11

blogiveagh3     iveaghblog8     blogiveagh4            blogiveagh1

blogiveagh2The Iveagh Gardens are located behind the National Concert Hall,  just a few minutes’ walk from St Stephen’s Green. These small, formal gardens are among the city’s loveliest. 

Designed in 1865 by landscape architect Ninian Niven, the gardens incorporate a wide variety of landscape features including fountains, rustic grottos and archery grounds. They  were donated to UCD by the Guinness family in 1908, and placed under the care of the OPW in 1991. 

The gardens play host to a variety of concerts and events throughout the year, but are still unknown to many Dubliners. Enclosed by high walls and trees, they offer a welcome respite from city life — a moment of quiet seclusion in the midst of everday busyness.

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About Aileen Hunt

I write nonfiction: essays, memoir, and prose poetry, as well as shorter, more humorous pieces. I embarrass my family regularly. I’m interested in how we respond to place, how it affects our sense of identity and wellbeing. I try to pay attention to my surroundings, to look at them carefully and respectfully. I want to feel at home wherever I live. I’m a Dubliner, through and through, but I have a soft spot for the West of Ireland. Who doesn’t?
This entry was posted in May 2013 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Sound of Gravel Underfoot

  1. Maura@leci (working) says:

    Tranquil, evocative piece. Maura

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Grainne OMalley says:

    Well done. Makes me want to crunch along there very soon. Happy Easter! Ps I have been very remiss I’m afraid but will try to do something when I get back. See you!

    Sent from my iPhone

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