Culture desk

Photo Essay: Summer Solstice Night on the Town

June 21 was the official summer solstice, with 17 hours and 15 seconds of daylight.

Today, 22 June, there’ll be seven seconds less daylight, and from here the day will shorten continuously towards 21 December, when we’ll sitting snugly in the lounges of pubs at 5 pm, with the darkness already fallen against the windows.

When sun set on 21 June at 21:57, the period of “civil twilight” began. From 22:49 to 00:22 there was “nautical twilight”, and finally, from 00:22 to 02:30, the heavens shifted to “astronomical twilight”.

Between 14 May and 29 July, there is no official “night” – that is to say, the sun never drops more than 18 degrees below the horizon. The result is that we endure permanent twilight. The sun, despite being below the horizon, still illuminates the Earth’s atmosphere.

The night of 20 June was the first time a full moon had coincided with the summer solstice in nearly 70 years. It’s not due to happen again until 2094. So I decided to fulfil a promise that I made to myself returning from a night out about 10 years ago: to traipse around town by bike for the entire night of the solstice.

It’s amazing the ground you can cover on a bike with no cars on the road, and the emptiness of the streets that turns them into a playground. I zipped through underground car parks an poked my nose through gates and fences.

In addition to the areas pictured below, I rolled through Ringsend, East Wall, Phibsborough, Grangegorman, Kilmainham, the South Inner City and the North Inner City, South East Georgian Dublin, and the Liberties.

My girlfriend, Hannah, joined me for the first leg for a swim on the Great South Wall at the Half Moon Club. The sun dipped into a small gap between the clouds and the horizon to give a spectacular sunset.

It wouldn’t be a night out in Dublin without running into friends. Diarmuid and Season had also cycled out for a swim on the Great South Wall.

We saw the ongoing construction of the controversial incinerator at Poolbeg.

There was still light left in the sky when I reach the Docklands with plenty of neon to give the camera the light it needs.

The last of the light fades behind Sheriff Street Bridge that crosses the Royal Canal. It’s a Monday night and the North Inner City becomes eerily quiet after midnight.

After a long stint in the National War Memorial Park, with no pictures to show, I come back into the Smithfield area. Off Jervis Street, in Wolfe Tone Park, the Tram Café makes an impression.

Anne’s Lane looks a treat as the binmen get to work at around 3 am.

Morning arrives slowly as cloud cover keeps the city dark for longer than expected. I begin chasing the moonset along the South Circular Road. I pass Flanagan’s Field Community Garden in Rialto on the site of the old Fatima Mansions housing estate.

As the sun rises, I am drawn to the War Memorial Gardens.

Brendan Mac Evilly portrait
Brendan Mac Evilly

Brendan Mac Evilly is a writer and arts organizer, and runs creativecareers.ie. His book "At Swim" was reissued in June by the Collins Press.

 

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