Fingal County Council Launches Green Dog Walker Campaign in Skerries

In September, Fingal County Council came out to Skerries to launch the Green Dog Walker Campaign. The Mayor, a Dog Warden, an Environmental Officer and lots of dogs, as well as Skerries folk and their dogs, and of course our Chairperson all were at the South Strand on the day to help with the launch.

Green Dog Walkers 2014 (7)

Fingal Co Co launches its Green Dog walkers campaign in Skerries. From front left, clockwise: Tiger. Fingal’s Mayor, Mags Murray. Ciara Leonard, Chairperson, Skerries Community Association. Fingal Litter Warden Tony Law, and his dog Roxy. Photo by Kevin Mcfeely

Let’s hope that this initiative will contribute to a safer, doggy-do-accident-free walking environment in Skerries!

Green Dog Walkers is a regional programme. It is a non-confrontational, friendly way to change attitudes about dog fouling.

Volunteers wear a Green Dog Walkers armband which signifies that they have “taken the pledge” to always:

  • clean up after their dog
  • wear the armband or put the Green Dog Walkers collar on their dog when walking
  • carry extra dog waste bags
  • be happy to be approached to ‘lend’ a dog waste bag to those without
  • be a friendly reminder to other dog walkers to clean up after their dogs

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  And you can still join! All you have to do is sign the  Green Dog Walkers Pledge – either online (follow the link) and return by email to or post to the Environment Department, Fingal County Council, County Hall, Swords, Co. Dublin. A Green Dog Walker armband and a bone dog bag dispenser will then be posted to you.

Green Dog Walkers 2014 (9)Green Dog Walkers 2014 (2)
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Tidy Towns Success 2014!

Maeve McGann from Skerries Tidy Town writes:

“We won the county award and a gold medal. We went up 7 points and are now only 4 points behind the overall winner, Kilkenny. This is the highest we have ever been in the competition.” Well done indeed!

tidy towns May 2014 terns

The following is an extract from the 2014 report, which we have also posted in full on a separate page:

Skerries is a lovely coastal town that is a pleasure to visit. Its charms are numerous, but its buildings, coastal location and beach, harbour and high quality open spaces stand out.

The high level of participation of volunteers is a reflection of the pride that local people take in the town

It was a very great pleasure to revisit Skerries and experience its many delightful charms on a perfect summer’s day.

tidy towns May 2014 oyster cormorant

Over the past number of years, the projects of Skerries Tidy Towns have included:

  • Commissioning sculptures of The Cormorant, Terns, Oyster Catchers and, in conjunction with Skerries Tourism, the Percy French seat
  • To commemorate the centenary of the opening of the Carnegie Library in Skerries, they commissioned a three-faced clock for the library tower
  • They erected three plaques to mark areas of local interest: “Walker’s Corner,” “The Bay Wall” and “The Ovens”

The very successful Adopt a Beach initiative by Skerries News – which got a well-deserved special mention in the adjudication report – and Adopt a Patch initiative by Skerries Tidy Towns ensure that the beaches and green spaces in the town are kept virtually litter free, thanks to the involvement of local residents.

Do find their Facebook page, and see what else they do!

Skerries Community Association would like to congratulate the Tidy Towns committee – also all those mentioned in it (we hope we didn’t miss anyone):

Skerries Tourism & Town Information Office, Skerries Mills, Skerries Adopt-A-Beach, Olive Skerries, Parachute Cafe-Skerries, Foróige Skerries, Fingal County Council, Fingal Leader Partnership, the Skerries Community Association – SCA (that’s us), Skerries Cycling Initiative, Sustainable Skerries, Skerries Guerrilla Gardeners, Skerries Reaching Out, Skerries Bookshop, Venezuela, The Shoe Horn ltd, EBS Skerries, Blooms, Rockabill Restaurant, Divino, Present Company, Nealons Pub, Gladstone Inn, Kelly’s Solicitors, @Red Island Wine, The Parlour Bar, Ritz, The Steakhouse, SuperValu, Skerries, The Church of Ireland, Bring Back The Pole , Sea Memorial Skerries, BirdWatch Ireland, Irish Seal Sanctuary, schools, youth groups, scouts

… and of course all the people living and working in Skerries.

flower display at the monument

The flower display at the monument – one of the many things the adjudicators liked!


Centenary Celebrations for the Old Schoolhouse – What a Party!

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What a fantastic turnout for the Old School Centenary Celebrations on Tue 26 August 2014 – there was admiration all around for Mary Conway, one of the Directors of Skerries Community Association, and her team for putting together this very enjoyable and highly informative evening! Memorable contributions include Heather and Fay McGloughlin, who read letters from school girls from 1914 and 2014, and Ashling Coleman, who gave a rendition of two lively songs, accompanied by Noreen Gavin.

However, at the heart of the evening was Stephanie Bourke, chairperson of Skerries Historical Society , who gave a paper on the history of the Old School. The many former pupils of the school who had come to the night listened attentively as she outlined the history of the building, and followed her detective-like analysis and conclusions of the Role Books of the St Patrick’s Schools for Boys / for Girls while they were resident in what is now the Old Schoolhouse. Many of the photographs and the original paper on the school building are printed in Time & Tide 5, still available from Skerries Historical Society, who you can find on Facebook – or in the Bus Bar on every 2nd Tuesday of the month for their public meetings.
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Hugh Halpin had put together 20 snippets of memories from those who had attended school there, and those were much enjoyed by all, very engagingly read out by Adam Burke, himself a teacher – and a member of Skerries Theatre Group, one of the many who were in attendance on the night.

centenary 10 Adam

Afterwards, there was much chat and banter, and the fascinating exhibition that was put together for the day was poured over, names guessed and stories exchanged. Many expressed the hope that the photographs would be exhibited again, and for longer than for just the one night – Skerries Community Association shares that hope!

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The organisers were especially delighted that more than thirty former pupils came back to the place where they got their primary education for this special night. The photograph below shows most of them – at the centre in the group photo, and below, Jack ‘Jackser’ Coleman, just back a few months from living on the other side of the globe, who was a pupil here in 1929.

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Letter from an 8-year-old (1914)

Dear Heather,

My name is Molly, it is 1914 and I am 8 years old. My new school on the Dublin Road in Skerries has caused lots of excitement around the town while it was being built – is lovely and bright because we have lots of huge windows and it is cosy because teacher lights a fire in the grate each morning with sticks, coal and turf we bring in with us.

We only get to see the boys briefly every morning and afternoon because the girls and boys have different halves of the school. I walk home for lunch every day with my two sisters and we always seem to have to sprint back to school in case we are late!

Mostly teacher is nice and helpful but if you get on the wrong side of her you could easily get a slap with her cane – I feel sorry for the girls who have been punished because it looks really sore!! Luckily I have managed to stay out of trouble so far.

My favourite thing to do is play skipping in the yard – we use some bailing twine the farmer who owns the field next door to the school gave us and we tied one end to a tree so four of us can skip together.

Every so often my hand gets tired in school practising my writing on my slate and the chalk keeps breaking into little pieces.

I like to daydream listening to the horses hooves trotting past on the street. It makes me wonder what transport people will use in 100 years’ time and what the child sitting at my desk might be like and what games they might play. I also wonder will everyday life like shopping and cooking change a lot too because right now it all seems like a lot of hard work……………………


Letter from an 8-Year-Old (2014)

Dear Molly,

I am Heather and I am writing to you from 2014 – 100 years on from when you wrote your letter.

Lots of things have changed since then, you might be surprised to know that the school building has changed very little in appearance although it is no longer used as a school anymore – it is now locally known as the Little Theatre or the Old School and is home to the local Drama society, a Montessori (which is like a combination of playing and learning for 3-5 year olds) a Day Care centre for the elderly, and local scouting groups, dance groups and meals-on-wheels (who deliver cooked dinners to elderly people around the town daily) all operate from here too.

Skerries is a much, much bigger town now and there are no less than four primary schools. The school you went to is now a mixed school for girls and boys and it’s new location is 100 yards behind your school building. We now use paper to write on and pencils to write with and we have heating systems instead of fires.

We still love to play skipping but there are lots of different activities for children to participate in. And believe it or not, with so many new inventions like cars, buses, trains and planes for transportation and computers and television for entertainment many children actually need to be encouraged to be active and to run around and play games.

The great news is that teachers are no longer allowed use canes or physically punish kids in any way.

We don’t go home for lunch anymore and school staff have to work really hard to make sure children don’t eat unhealthy foods with sugar in them. Shopping is much easier as all the shops have been rolled into one big supermarket, and for cooking we have hobs, ovens and microwaves.

I think you can see that a lot has changed over the last 100 years although we are still just plain old kids wanting to have fun with our friends.


Memories, collected by Hugh Halpin from his contemporaries

I spoke to some of my contemporaries. Here is the result, 20 memories from the old school (1950s and early 60s). Peter McNally says he will send you a few of his stories.

These memories come with a bit of a disclaimer (bear in mind the memories of these auld kids are questionable) and by the way, its not all nostalgia…

Memory 1. Blue lipped boys
Either from the cold or sucking nibs and ink from the inkwells. Health and Safety wasn’t a big thing then.
Memory 2. White lipped teachers
Not from rage, but from holding chalk between their lips as they held the easel with one hand and rubbed out the blackboard with the other. Then followed the inevitable cringe as the chalk screeched across the board.

Memory 3. Class size
Each teacher had two classes to teach and two separate curriculum…perhaps the white lips didn’t come from the chalk after all.
Memory 4. Blots
Great care had to be taken to avoid blotting a copybook. The consequences could be painful. Oh, for a biro then.

Memory 5. Mill Hill Line
The line of Cabra kids making their way to school across the Mill Hill.
Memory 6. School toilets
There were outside and so bad that anyone who lived close to the school would sneak home to use the toilet. And for a small child, reaching the chain could be daunting.

Memory 7. Ploughing lessons
Watching Ellis’s field being ploughed (where the Community Centre is now) and listening to the gulls screeching as they followed the plough. Any bit of diversion from school lessons was always welcome!

Memory 8. Heating
The profile of a teacher standing in front of the fire warming his arse while the rest of us froze. Central wha?
Memory 9. Girls
Hearing the girls playing in their schoolyard at break time. The big wall (it seemed big to us) ensured we had no contact with our female contemporaries. However if you stood on the highest step at the back door, you might just about see them on your tippy toes. The idea of the Berlin Wall probably came from our school.
Memory 10. Kids cane strategy
No matter what strategy we kids used to avoid the cane or its effects, the teachers had a better one.
Memory 11. Parking problems
None. One car was usually parked outside the school, a Ford Anglia belonging to Mr. Doyle.
Memory 12. Mammies waiting at the school gate
None, unless there was a death in the family. We were on our own and raced each other home.
Memory 13. Schoolyard fights
No cyber bullying then, it was physical.
Memory 14. McGowan’s Shop
McGowan’s was where Crilly and McGrath opticians are now. The McGowan sisters sold school supplies and sweets in big glass jars (gobstoppers, liquorice-all-sorts and such delicacies). Sometimes the sisters were diverted to the back of the shop to fetch a lined copybook. During this time, the number of sweets in a glass jar could surprisingly diminish.

Memory 15. Penny for the ‘black babies’
An expression used to help collect money for starving African children. Nothing has changed except the currency and of course the expression would be frowned upon today.
Memory 16. Short pants
All young lads wore short pants to show off the cuts on their dirty knees. Knees were only cleaned before going to mass.
Memory 17. The School Dentist
Spitting out bits of filling after a visit to the ‘dispensary’ was common. A visit to the dentist was the only time that school was preferred.
Memory 18. A bishop’s visit
Time off school in 1961 for an official visit of the recently ordained Bishop Nicholas Grimley who grew up in Skerries. It was a joyous day for the town, We were joyous for the time off.
Memory 19. The Primary Cert
One of the few times we were allowed in the girls school. It was there we sat the Primary Certificate, an exam long gone now. The sitting used to alternate between the boys and girls schools.
Memory 20. A poem on the curriculum called ‘The Crow’
Old crow, upon the tall tree top
I see you sitting at your ease,
You hang upon the highest bough.
And balance in the breeze. How many miles you’ve been to-day,
Upon your wing so strong and black,
And steered across the dark grey sky,
Without or guide or track;
Above the city wrapped in smoke,
Green fields, and rivers flowing clear ;
Now tell me as you passed them o’er.
What did you see and hear ?

The old crow shakes his sooty wing
And answers hoarsely, **Caw, Caw, Caw,”
And that is all the crow can tell.
Of what he heard and saw.

20 Years of Skerries Town Twinning

Skerries Town Twinning Association, part of the Skerries Community Association, looks back on a very successful visit from France which marks the 20th anniversary of the first visit from Guichen!

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Bon Retour en France !

Fond farewells, warm hugs and  kisses on both cheeks  were the order of the day on Tuesday afternoon last, when Skerries hosts bid  ‘au revoir et bon retour’ to the 41 guests who had come to Skerries from the Canton of Guichen.  They were here to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the twinning of the two areas.  It seemed like no time since the visitors had arrived to blue skies, but, right on cue, the first rain of the five days fell, as they departed.


During their stay, the visitors, young and old, had packed in an eventful time.  On Friday morning, the adults of the group had guided tours of Ardgillan Gardens and the Castle, while the younger visitors were warmly welcomed to the Cúl Camp in Skerries Harps GAA.  In the afternoon the adults among the group had guided walking tours of Skerries, and the kids had a Treasure Hunt around the town.

Friday evening saw the official opening of the joint photographic venture, called ‘Through Each Other’s Eyes’ – photographers from Guichen and Skerries having photographed each other’s landscape and people.  The opening was performed by Councillor Grainne McKenna, deputising for the Mayor of Fingal.  There was a large crowd from across a broad spectrum of local people, many of whom had been among those who had welcomed the original visitors twenty years ago.   Many of the photos were quickly sold, a tribute to the high quality of the works.  Others photos were on display in Seasons, Rockabill, Parachute and The Plough restaurants.

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On Saturday, an illustrated talk on ‘Twenty Years of Twinning’ took place in Keane’s Bus Bar and Skerries Town Twinning Association was pleased to welcome representatives from Rush, Loughshinny, Balrothery and Lusk Twinning Associations who spoke of their experience of having a twin town.  On behalf of the Canton of Guichen, Philippe Gourronc, Jean-Paul Gachot and Jean-Paul Quéré made  contributions to the discussion which followed the talk.  Meanwhile a drama workshop occupied the younger folk. Workshops on Celtic embroidery, set dancing and traditional music were also organised.  An evening of music and song, by young Skerries artists took place in Café Jacques to round off a busy day.

At Mass on Sunday, there were French, English and Irish readings, followed by a display of Breton music and dancing outside St. Patrick’s Church, before a colourful parade set out for Guichen Way ( on Red Island), where despite the strong breeze, a beautifully engraved piece of Milverton granite commemorating the twentieth anniversary was unveiled and the twinning promise of friendship and cooperation was renewed.  This plaque was kindly organised and donated by Wisteria Garden, Strand Street.  This plaque will be incorporated into the new Town Garden, beside the Library, when it is completed.


On Sunday afternoon a hotly contested Boules tournament took place at The Dorn.  Eight teams were formed (each comprising French and Skerries participants).  After several rounds of heats, the winners, aptly named ‘The Goats’,  narrowly defeated ‘The Bears’ amid much fun and laughter and a fine air of competitiveness.  A return match is promised in Guichen next year, when a group will travel for the twentieth celebrations there.    A special Dinner was held on Sunday evening in Skerries Golf Club.

Bright and early on Monday morning, the Guichen group, accompanied by three Skerries members set out for a day-long excursion to Kilkenny.  It was an excellent day, the weather held up and there was an enjoyable guided tour of St. Canice’s Cathedral, with many of the group climbing the Round Tower, followed by a picnic and tour of Kilkenny Castle.  A little retail therapy followed and all were glad to climb aboard the bus for the return trip to Skerries.  A final evening of singing and music was held in Joe May’s and despite the weariness which was beginning to creep in, a very lively session took place, with Skerries and Guichen singers and musicians contributing in turn to the entertainment.

Finally, for the brave-hearted, a quick trip to Dublin took place on Tuesday morning, before packing of bags for the return trip via Rosslare.

The five day visit was a great success and plans are already afoot for the return in July 2015.  Huge thanks must go to the host families and the many individuals and organisations, who gave so freely of their time and energy to make the trip such a success.  If you would like to see more photos, follow us on Facebook or contact any of our members –, or


First Ever Skerries CoderDojo a Great Success

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The newest Skerries Community Association committee, Skerries CoderDojo, had a great start to its monthly free computing-club sessions. Their aim is to bring interested young people aged 7 to 17 and mentors who have a computing / coding background together. The buzzword here is Digital Literacy, the ability to not just use computers but to understand how they work, and to write your own computer programs.

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The organisers, helpers, and mentors numbered more than a dozen, and the interest in Skerries for this monthly event is huge. The venue could hold 30 “ninjas” (which is what CoderDojo participants are called) – it could have been filled twice over, and the (free) tickets were snapped up within twenty minutes.

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If anybody would like to join the group of mentors / parent helpers / organisers, they can send an email to And if you would like to get a ticket for the October meeting, scheduled for Sun Oct 5, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., then you need to keep an eye on the daily SCA Newsflash email – that, and the SkerriesCoderDojo Google Group (which you are invited to join)  is where you will first learn when next month’s tickets are released.

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PS: The organisers asked for feedback; here just a very short summary:

Do you think you will be back for next month’s event? – Yes, definitely. – 100%.

What was particularly good from your point of view? 

“The number of mentors available and the expertise. Also, the kids were having such a great time”

“It’s a fun environment, yet the children really learn something in a constructive way”

“The buzz in the room, community spirit. ”

“An opportunity for “screen-time” with other kids … what’s not to like. My beginner child feels so enabled now – great for self esteem”

Skerries Community Association is delighted to be helping Skerries CoderDojo to get established and would like to thank all the mentors, organisers, and helpers for their efforts. Best of luck to you for the future!

Soundwaves Festival Gearing Up!

Skerries Soundwaves Festival Committee is probably our busiest committee right now, with just a week to go to the festival launch in Skerries Mills!

Opening Night Logo 2014

When you read this, and if you are living in Skerries, you may already have received the brochures – if not, they will arrive very soon, and you can also pick them up in many Skerries shops and of course in Skerries Tourist and Town Information Centre, Thomas Hand Street, which is their ticket office this year (open Wed to Sun, 10.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.). For the first time in a few years, tickets are also available through the Soundwaves website. However, for many of the events that won’t even be necessary, as they are free – the Opening Night (Fri 19 Sep), the Soundwaves Lego, Minecraft and Cookery Competitions & Exhibitions (Sun 21 Sep), the Céilí, the Street Party, the Classical Oasis and the Night Parade & Fireworks (all Sun 21 Sep) for instance don’t need any booking or entrance fee – just turn up and be part of our festival!

Ticket Office 2014Skerries Soundwaves is a truly amazing phenomenon. Now in its 11th year, it was started by a few members of the Board of Skerries Community Association, who thought that Skerries really should have a music & arts festival, because, as they said: “A community that celebrates together is a stronger community!”

Over the years, a number of events have become firm favourites, such as the classical concert in Holmpatrick Church, the poetry event, the Lego Workshops (as this goes public, there are still some tickets left, but don’t wait too long!), the puppet shows, and of course the biggest event of them all – the Gig at Skerries Mills Courtyard. where impressive impresario Dave Diebold (of Skerries News & Skerries Tourist Office) will present you Jerry Fish & Band, the Booka Brass Band, and The Young Folk. A night not to be missed – and the VIP tickets are all gone already!

Skerries Soundwaves have their own mini-Fringe, too: First off are the competitors in the Skerries Got Talent Auditions who are competing for a place in the Matinee / Final on Sat 20 September. Then it’s the competition for the U2s and Hothouse Flowers of tomorrow (am I betraying my age by selecting those bands as examples?), Battle of the Bands: Little Theatre, Fri 12 Sep. And for the fans of Minecraft, there will be a party on Saturday to celebrate the launch of this year’s Soundwaves Minecraft Project 2014 – unfortunately, word spread fast about this one, and all 50 tickets are now gone. However, the project itself (now in its third year) has many spaces left, so all Skerries Minecrafters are invited to join online to create a virtual Skerries!

And then the festival proper kicks off with the abovementioned opening night and all its other highlights – too many to mention here, so seek out the brochure, visit our website, and look out for your Skerries Community Association Newsflash!

To keep up with what is happening, visit and follow the Soundwaves Festival crew on Facebook.

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Do you have a couple of hours to spare?

The Soundwaves Festival could not happen without volunteers who join the team for an event or two… here is a list of those where we are currently short of a few “Yellow Shirts.” If you’re interested, please contact our Volunteer Manager, Nathasha – she’ll be delighted to hear from you!

Natasha Isabelle
Mobile: 085 7112366

You’ll be helping the Event Manager with running the event smoothly, checking tickets, helping people with questions, and giving a hand in general.

We’re particularly looking for people who could help out during the Gig at the Mills, the Street Party (including four strong people for setting up the marquee), and the Night Parade.

Fri 12 7pm Battle of the Bands [Yes, that’s tonight!]
Sat 20 3pm Magic Show
Sat 20 6pm SkerriesGotTalent matinee
Sat 20 8pm SkerriesGotTalent finals
Sun 21 8pm The Nualas
Sun 28 11am Puppets – The Merman’s Tale
Sun 28 12:30 Puppets – Tom Thumb
Sun 28 11:45 Street Ceili
Sun 28 2pm-5pm Street party
Sun 28 7pm Night Parade
Sun 28 8pm Fireworks

For any of the above, please contact Natasha 085 7112366

And then there is our fundraiser bag packing:
Can you give us an hour or two of your time on Saturday 20 September? If so, contact us through the Facebook page or send an email to

Be a Green Dog Walker!

Have you noticed? The days are getting shorter. And for those of us with dogs to walk, we’ll increasingly be out and about with Fido in the dark. Joggers, walkers, kids going to school will be out when it’s not 100% bright, either… and these are the times when we are all particularly happy about clean, poo-free sidewalks, roads, and verges!

I guess 99.5% of all dog walkers are well-intentioned and always mean to tidy up after their dog. Sometimes, however, they might be caught without a plastic bag to do so…

Enter the Green Dog Walker!

Green Dog Walkers is a regional programme. It is a non-confrontational, friendly way to change attitudes about dog fouling.

Volunteers wear a Green Dog Walkers armband which signifies that they have “taken the pledge” to always:

  • clean up after their dog
  • wear the armband or put the Green Dog Walkers collar on their dog when walking
  • carry extra dog waste bags
  • be happy to be approached to ‘lend’ a dog waste bag to those without
  • be a friendly reminder to other dog walkers to clean up after their dogs

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  All you have to do is sign the  Green Dog Walkers Pledge – either online (follow the link) and return by email to or post to the Environment Department, Fingal County Council, County Hall, Swords, Co. Dublin. A Green Dog Walker armband and a bone dog bag dispenser will then be posted to you.

Or even better: Come to the South Strand, Skerries, between 10 a.m. and 12 noon this coming Saturday (13 Sep), meet a Fingal dog warden, “take the pledge,” and meet other doggies and their walkers! (Or should that be: walkers and their doggies?)

Do encourage friends with dogs or dog lovers to come down and join in the fun!

You can read more with our  Green Dog Walker Leaflet or Green Dog Walker Leaflet Irish Version .

Skerries Community Association is happy to be cooperating with Fingal County Council in this initiative.

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