ust as we were pulling together a history of Darcy’s farm as their famous field becomes a town park, local author and chancer Mark Mitchell got in touch.
The Mitchell lad
He had just written an ode to Darcy’s Field, once the home of Greystones United and the scene of many a impromptu match between various would-be football legends.
In truth, only one made it all the way to Landsowne Road, and beyond; the bouldPaul McShane.
For everyone else, this was their Landsdowne Road, their Wembley – or, for anyone handy with a broomstick, their Croke Park.
Darcy’s Field 1994. Pic: Bray People
The fact that it was situated right beside the town dump didn’t seem to bother anyone either. Mixed with the great smell of Brut, sure, this was the closest thing we had to aromatherapy back then.
We’ll have the Darcy family’s account of life up on the hill later today. For now, let’s jump back with the Mitchell lad for a tune on the old banjo…
The entrance to Darcy’s Field is at Joe Sweeney’s fish and chip shop where there are always a number of boat trailers and jeeps parked nearby belonging to the early rising fishermen who sell their fish to Joe in return for an early morning cuppa and copious sandwiches.
You drive past the old boat club house and some very colourful houses i.e. bright yellow, red and even sky blue, which leads to a very bumpy narrow single lane dirt track. So narrow, should you encounter another car coming in the opposite direction, you either have to reverse to the entrance, or, like some folk, drive onto the bank at a thirty-three to-forty-five-degree angle until the car passes.
You then come to some freight containers that act as a club house and changing rooms for the local soccer club. Then you come to dozens of soccer pitches all marked out complete with goal keeping nets, corner flags and children playing in the various leagues all wanting to become the next Christian Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
Mini-League 1998/1999. Pic: Paula Thompson
Ken my neighbour asked me would I like to join him one Sunday morning for a game of footie with some friends of his. We walked a good distance from where we parked until we found a vacant pitch. Some of Ken’s friend were already there warming up. Straight away I could see these were exceptionally good players.
Mini-League action. Pic: Paula Thompson
No matter, in for a penny, in for a pound.
As I looked around I was taken in by the sheer beauty of the scenery. To the east you could see the sea waves splashing against the rocks and an endless numbers of seagulls always looking for food.
To the north was a beautiful view of Bray Head and the Cliff Walk which always had a steady stream of walkers in all weathers. In 1856, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the world-famous British civil engineer, was responsible for the building of the train line between Bray and Greystones.
The original route had the train line running parallel to the now Cliff Walk, where many workmen lost their lives due to the treacherous working conditions. Brunel decided to drill through Bray Head as an alternative route which is still used to this day almost a century and a half later. The line is known as Brunel’s Folly due to the high cost of maintenance due to landslides.
And to the west was the Holy Grail, a spectacular view of the little and the big Sugarloaf. It was a breath-taking sight to behold, backed by a beautiful clear blue sky. Down from the Sugarloaf was Kindlestown Wood – a heavily wooded area managed by Coilte, which backs on to Applewood Heights.
I often thought the view would make a superb jigsaw puzzle.
Darcy’s with that distant dump. Pic: Paula Thompson
It was rumoured for many years the entire Darcy’s Field had been sold to developers. Each week after our game we all agreed it would be a mortal sin to destroy this all-encompassing glorious sight. We continued playing footie for many years and the rumours continued with no obvious activity.
But now, alas, Darcy’s Field is no more. In its place are several six-storey apartment blocks, far too numerous to count three- and four-bedroomed houses detached, and semi-detached, and some three-story houses that sell for a cool million euros, and more. The apartments and houses stretch from Joe Sweeney’s fish and chip shop right up to what was the furthest soccer pitch that we played on for so many years.
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