#6 Salad and Spirits
By Gabriel Finneran
At 0600hrs Monday morning I packed my bags and set off from Athlone, bound for Dunsink which would be my home for the next three days. With a cumbersome loadout of a backpack, pannier and a sleeping bag I made my way from Heuston through the Phoenix Park and down Auburn Avenue before a leg-killing climb up Dunsink lane. Arriving at the observatory it was immediately apparentÂ that there was a lot of work to do, the Festival of Curiosity was only two weeks away and we were starting from scratch. After spending hours arranging books artistically on bookcases and rummaging around in the basement we called it a day and Tess, Oscar and Peter left for home. I was staying in Dunsink House that night and Peter warned me to watch out for the ghost of Hamilton who has apparently haunted Dunsink for many years. We had heard a great deal of strange noises in the Observatory whilst working there and doors had been known to slam for no apparent reason so I wasnâ€™t entirely convinced there were no phantoms lurking close by. I for one certainly hoped Hamilton was more a friendly neighbourhood poltergeist than a madman lurking around the next dark corner. I was looking forward to using the South Dome Telescope to observe the Moon but unfortunately clouds obscured the night sky.Â
The first order of business was dinner. Having unpacked my supplies, I set off by bike across the fields towards Ashtown. As I picked up speed the bumpy terrain attempted to shake me to pieces and the suspension cried out in agony – Note to self: donâ€™t try and cycle down a hill in the middle of a field full of craters. Despite this near death experience, I eventually reached the shop and decided on Quiche Lorraine paired with a Caesar salad and a bottle of coke for dinner. It was starting to rain heavily at this point and enlightened by the white-knuckle ride from earlier I decided to take the road back to the Observatory. After climbing the hill for the second time that day I was starving and waited impatiently for the food to cook. The rain and clouds cleared briefly and I settled down to watch the sunset over the city. Remembering Peterâ€™s warnings I kept my eyes peeled for any sign of paranormal activity. Unsurprisingly (and maybe anticlimactically), there was none to be found, although something did fall over downstairs which frightened the life out of me in the night.Â
The next day I was up early to greet the others when they arrived. It was a nice change not to have to cycle from Heuston. Regaling them with stories of my impromptu mountain biking and breaking the news that there were no ghosts in Dunsink, we got to work and so began another day of manual labour at Dunsink.