There was a dog fight in the field some years ago. It was a turf war. Who was allowed to walk on the land? Two big dogs told a little border collie that he didn’t have permission to walk on the land and he shouldn’t be there. But the little collie knew he was perfectly entitled to walk in the field as he had been given permission and sure wasn’t he looking forward to having a drink in the bar of the new hotel when it was built.
Now the two big dogs had also been given permission to walk in the field. They had been doing this for a few years, sure didn’t they as good as own it. Don’t be ridiculous you stupid little dog. We know better than you. There will never be a hotel here. We have a very big dog relative in big dog high office who knows all about fields and is in charge of all of the fields and will never allow it. Where did I hear before about a dog being obeyed in office? Hmm, sounds familiar…..
One Autumn evening when there were haystacks in the field, I thought I would take the younger children up for a run around to wear them out. They loved climbing up on top of the haystacks. Now going up to the field was a rare thing for me to do because I didn’t like going up there. It gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. But occasionally I would make a point of going up on principle. I parked my car at the entrance of the field and let the kids loose on the haystacks. They were happy out.
I was buttonholed by a dog walker. I was told my car was in the way and that he was walking his two big dogs. I was taken aback. I thought to myself, but don’t I own the field? Wasn’t I entitled to park my car wherever I wanted? I looked him in the eye and told him I was “walking my children”. It took a good while for the penny to drop- he backed off “Oh, oh, yes, right” and he skulked away. Honestly, you’d swear some people think they own the place.
The dogs in the street know what happened to Holmpatrick Cove in planning and development circles. It was a good development. Over the last three years we have met up with practically everyone in the industry in an effort to move forward. The planning history is too much for them to stomach. Reactions to the refusal include (and I quote) “are you sure there wasn’t an ulterior motive,” “somebody has been shadowing your planning from the get-go,” “they were of a mind to refuse,” “someone’s fingerprints are all over this” etc. etc.
We have joined the dots, but that’s another blog. Back to the dog fight. It was an uneven match. Two big dogs against one little one. There was no let up or calling off of the dogs. The poor little collie lost an eye in the fight. He died not long afterwards.
The dogs in the street know what happened. And so do the dogs in the field.
Once I went up to the field. It was sometime in 2010, before our court case. (I will go into the court case another time if only for its comedic value). I went up to check the entrance because strange things were going on up there. A new fence arrived in the middle of our entrance courtesy of six of the neighbours that lived the far side of the hedge. (After two decades living there, they had suddenly decided that they owned half of our entrance). Very strange, especially as we had all bought our land from the same lady: the lady of the poker game. Also, furious planting of giant laurel hedging was going on at their entrance and magically a giant hole appeared further down the hedge (another story too).
So, when I arrived up I saw a plastic bag placed hanging on the hedge inside the newly erected fence. I had to climb over the new fence to retrieve it. It was a bag full of dead fish. Now, if I lived in Chicago in the 1930s I would have been very worried. Something along the lines of …if you don’t stop what you’re doing, death was at your door……you will sleep with the fishes…..you’ll be swimming with the fishes. Lovely. But this was 21st Century Skerries.
I binned it of course. I don’t like litter.
It’s not the only time something sinister happened. A councillor told us that he was approached by a little fish in the council headquarters. This little fish is someone who tells everyone he has an awful lot of money in the bank (last I heard there was 2m ). What was said to the councillor and referring to my husband Michael, “one of these days someone is going to take that fella out”. Lovely.
So back to fish. We know there are very big fish who have influenced our planning. We are only small fish and as a local councillor told us (after our planning was refused by the big fish in An Bord Pleanála), that the council had “bigger fish to fry” and therefore couldn’t intervene with regards our situation. Something to do with a new National Planning Framework and the M50 restriction that was causing the council a bit of bother……
Enough about all of that and speaking of fish I think I will go for a swim to the Springboards later, it’s not a bad day in Skerries and from where I’m sitting (for the moment) the sea looks nice. It’s good to be alive.
It all started way back with a game of poker. John’s Mum played poker every week with a group of friends and heard that one of her friends was selling her field. John had an idea to buy it. He and his young family lived in America and he wanted to come home to Skerries to build a home. His family had lived in Skerries for generations. He brought Michael up to the field and they both saw the vision. Michael’s family also were centuries in Skerries and he never knew this view of Skerries existed (apart from a glimpse from the top of the 33 bus). The view was closed off to the town. So, the plan at that time was to buy the field and see if they could build two homes and make the rest a public picnic park with a spectacular view.
John went to the auction but the field was sold to someone else. That sale ultimately fell through and all of a sudden John and Michael owned a lovely field with a view. Ciara and I joined the boys at the field to celebrate, along with two friends, also home from America.
We were being watched from behind the hedge. Little did we know that a devious and shady force was about to be unleashed into all our lives that would change all of our paths.
John and Ciara went back to America after a couple of years. They saw enough of the the begrudgery and its malignant influence on planning decisions. They didn’t know at the time but they must have foreseen,( just as in the game of poker), that the cards were marked by the dealer from the very beginning. Wikipedia tells us that cheating in poker can be done in many ways, “including collusion, sleight-of hand (such as bottom dealing or stacking the deck”). The same appears to apply to planning. John and Ciara thankfully have made a great life for their family back in America.
Michael and I stayed. The field was sold last week by a receiver.