I was chatting with a friend that was visiting from Canada for the first time and he was so interested in visiting Skerries, I couldn’t understand why because I always see it as a small coastal town 30km North of Dublin City, especially because I used to live in Balbriggan and travelled through the town every day for 3 years, it seems quiet and uneventful though beautiful because of the coastal views.
Last week we went to Skerries and my oh my was I so wrong, Skerries it turned out was filled with history and tradition and an important place that is embedded in Irish history. The Skerries coast and the little islands surrounding it that I was used to seeing played a significant role in shaping the island of Ireland’s history. According to a reference in the Book of Armagh, written about the year 800 AD, in ancient times the islands off the coast of Skerries were known as the “isles of the children of Cor”.
History holds that one of the little islands just off Skerries was used as a landing place for invasions to Ireland during the second century, it was also fascinating to find out that St Patrick first landed in Skerries in 432 AD from there passed to the mainland to enlighten Ireland with the rays of the Christian religion.
And one of the main treasures of Skerries mills, two windmills and a watermill – a unique collection of mills and one of Ireland’s foremost industrial heritage centres. The story of stone-ground milling in Skerries can be traced to the early 16th century when the lands belonged to the Priory of Holmpatrick, an Augustinian monastic foundation. Milling continued in Skerries until the early 20th century, and a bakery that existed by 1840 was producing bread and confectionery until the mid-1980.
We took bus 33 from Lower Abbey Street, it was a bit of a long journey but it is worth it you get to see. The journey is about an hour fifteen minutes without traffic. Our day started with a visit to the Skerries mills, which costs about €4.50 for a guided tour. The tour takes you to see the waterwheel, seed dresser, winnower, and sack hoist in action. You also learn about the technology of stone-ground milling using wind and water power. You also have the option to climb to the top of a 4 sail windmill. The resident tour guide paddy McCormick was a brilliant tour guide and host. The Watermill Café prepares a wide range of good hot and cold food. There is also a craft shop.
After the windmills tour, we made our way to the Skerries coast shortly before the heavens open. We had dinner at a local Fish and Chips restaurant which serves very fresh codfish and real Irish potatoes.
Sadly the rain never let off as we made our way back to Dublin… it was an exciting and discovery site seeing tour… hope you will be looking forward to making one soon.