Bullock Harbour: The Cabra Connection

On fine summers day in August this year I paid a visit to Dalkey. Situated on the coast outside Dublin this urban costal village has been a great place for city people to go and relax over the years.

On the edge of the village is Bullock Harbor where many people go fishing or to enjoy the small stone harbor and the view out to Dublin bay. On the day I was there I decided to go to the harbour. At the edge of the Harbor are a number of seats which look out onto the bay. The seat on which I used to rest had a memorial plaque on it.

The plaque was dedicated to the Phelan brothers with a line ‘broken hearted clown’ inserted on it. As there is a Phelan family in Cabra from Carnlough road and their fathers name was Bill I wondered whether there was any connection with the people mentioned on the Plaque.

So a few days later I met Mick Phelan who I know well and asked him about the plaque. He confirmed to me that the plaque was dedicated to his father and his uncles who used to go to Bullock harbor to fish for years. I asked him to write a short piece about the plaque and why it was erected in Bullock Harbour. This is Mick’s account of the story of the plaque in Bullock Harbour and the Cabra connection.

My Dad and his two brothers although from the Northside of the City (Cabra, Finglas, and Donnycarny) spent most of their relaxation time when not working out in Bullock Harbour fishing. They were hardy men who loved going out on the sea to fish. One of many memories from my father was his advice about the sea and how dangerous it was.

He told me always to be careful of the sea as it had no friends and it would take you in a snap of a finger. It is advice I have never forgotten. Lots of people from Cabra ventured to Bullock over the years, Mick Gilligan, Terry Mc Neill and Hughie Geaghty to name just a few, who spent many weekends fishing there.

The craic afterwards in the local pubs was great when the stories of the one that got away would be told. Today the man that runs the boat hire is Christy Lawless whose father was the great Joe Lawless. Joe was the man who ran the boat hire in my fathers time. Many stories are told about Joe, one in particular which was highlighted in one of the papers a few weeks ago was about how he saved two men from drowning.

Joe was returning home one night after a few pints when he heard some commotion in the water. Realising someone was in trouble he jumped in and managed to rescue two men whose boat had capsized. They don’t make men like that anymore.

Pictured above: The Phelan Brothers Jack (middle) and Bill (right)

After the death of my father and uncles the family thought it would be a nice way to remember them and their times in Bullock with a memento. The family made a request to Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown council for the bench and plaque to be put on the harbour.

This was agreed and we are grateful to them for the bench and plaque that was erected in the Harbour. The line ‘Broken hearted clown’ is from one of my Dads favorite songs. His heart was broken after my Mother passed away in October 1976. He lived on in Cabra until 2006, thirty years after my Mother passed away, he always missed her.

So that is the story of Cabra connection with Bullock Harbour .

Thanks to Mick Phelan for the article and pictures.