War of the Wetlands

It was at about 18:30 on a rather chilly Sunday 14th of December that I found myself walking along the moonlit causeway to Bull Island Nature Reserve (on the north side of Dublin Bay), praying that I wouldn’t have to explain myself to the gardaí who spun by in their four wheel drive Jeep. Bull Island was unwittingly created by Captain Bligh (Yes, of Mutiny on the Bounty), and ‘where of course thousands of Dubliners have been conceived in the back seats of cars on a Saturday night’.

I must have a cut a rather ridiculous figure in silhouette, wearing army surplus combats and thermal smock, standing high up on the dunes, clutching a Maglite in one hand, a mobile phone in the other, trying desperately to find the Irish Centre for UFO Studies folk that I was trying to locate. There were several cars cruising about – at least some of which were also presumably looking for the ICUFOS skywatchers.
At about 19:30, I was sitting on a dune, when a light streaked across the sky, east to west. . . a meteor, the peak of the Geminid shower was on Saturday, so it was only to be expected. Out of the corner of my eye I caught another light, on the ground, prompting me to start stumbling through the marram grass, eventually coming across half a dozen warmly clad figures, armed with cameras and binoculars. This was the ICUFOS group, and so far I’d been the only one to find them. They had seen nothing of interest, but Alan Sewell was claiming ‘results’ in Boyle, Co. Roscommon, one of the other two ‘window areas’, Coomhola near Bantry in West Cork being the third site.
And lo!, I joined the skywatch. Stars were examined and every flight in and out of nearby Dublin airport was scrutinised. Around 20:00 a huge streak lit the sky, from north-east to south-west, another meteor, huge this time, tinged with blue and orange. But no ‘UFOs’ as such,at least not in the context generally used by ufological organisations.
I rang Alan Sewell, at the ICUFOS site in Boyle, where he told me that a witness had telephoned him on Saturday, from near the town, *while* they were watching a large sphere hover about a mile away, some 20 degrees above the horizontal. Sewell himself claimed to have seen something himself, but didn’t elaborate at that point in time. A little later, my phone rang again, this time it was one of my MIBs (Men In Bantry) who was in Coomhola, which seemed to be deserted. I conveyed this to the ICUFOS folk, and jokes were cracked about possible abductions. Some time yet later again, camera shutters started clicking when a star just above the sea on the eastern horizon suddenly started glowing fiercely – but it was just another airliner, coming in a low altitude, directly towards us. . .
At 22:00, after a few journalists had been and gone (including, weirdly enough, ‘Woman’s Way’), it was time for the Chris Barry Show on FM104 radio. In my humble opinion, Mr. Barry may be the most irritating mammal known to science, and is certainly a candidate for the post of Irish Tabloid Radio Grandmaster. But somehow, on a windswept Bull Island sand dune on a December night, I found myself standing beside the enthusiastic Rene, as did a phone interview for the Chris Barry Show. The discarnate experience was heightened by my tuning in with on my personal stereo, and recording the show.
It was a terrible affair, after the ICUFOS people had had their say, and the three remaining ICUFOS people and I started climbing down to the road, the phone calls started pouring in from excited listeners, all recounting their own reports. As we walked towards the causeway, a silver Nissan pulled up beside us, the driver enquiring as to whether or not we were the UFO watchers. I let the others answer that one, but when he offered us a lift to Raheny, telling us that he’s heard about ‘us’ on the radio, I didn’t hesitate to squeeze in. On arriving in Raheny, we headed for the railway station, to catch the DART back into town (two of the others headed north). At this juncture, people started frantically ringing Chris Barry about a strange star like light hanging directly over Dublin Bay, which seemed to be flickering different colours. Obviously we couldn’t see this from the train carriage, but I mentally pictured hundreds of people peering through their windows to see this alleged UFO sight. Even Chris Barry left his post to look out the window, returning to say that he could see it, but it looked like a normal star to him. . . Alan Sewell was still on the line, and he reported that he could see it too in Roscommon and that it was only the star Sirius. This wasn’t good enough for some people though, who phoned in maintaining that their UFO was 100 times bigger than any star.
Fortunately for Dublin, Sirius didn’t fall into the bay, and by 23:30 I was tucked up and toasty at home, reflecting on the irony of the evening’s events. The ICUFOS, whom I have been mentioning in Blather for some time now, seemed surprisingly sober about the evening’s exploits, yet their actions, and mine too, by association, had been instrumental in getting a sizeable proportion of Dublin’s population worked up about the possibility of UFOs over Dublin.
So – as was expected – no extraterrestrial goings-on in Dublin, but certainly an educational and enlightening evening was had, by this writer at least.

Blather would like to extend a large thankful earthmover bucket to Colm Linehan for correctly pointing the inexplicable inconsistency in last week’s Blather, where I somehow managed to convert 60-70 miles to 40-50 kilometres. I could say that it’s a concept I’m working on, based on Bell’s Theorem and Jung’s collective unconsciousness. I could also say that a choir of Zeta Reticulians led by Jesus H. Christ, Princess Diana and Michael Hutchence told me to do it in a song, but in both cases, I’d really just be making excuses.

Having barely survived the scathing commentary levelled on it by this column, The Examiner was good enough to run a variation of Blather 29 ‘Pontifications on Pabulum‘ on page 8 of its Saturday 13th December issue. Top marks! Pity they got our email address wrong, but they do promise to print a correction. . .

Chief Bottle Washer at Blather
Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and "known troublemaker" Dave Walsh is the founder of Blather.net, described both as "possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River", and "the nicest website circulating in Ireland". Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.