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New Park Planned for Bridgefoot Street.

New Park Planned for Bridgefoot Street – Tony Kennedy updates on the development of the Bridgefoot Street Park

As part of the Liberties Greening Strategy, work on a new park at in Bridgefoot street is set to get underway. The current vacant site at the end of the street is the area in which the park will be built by Dermot Foley Architects. Among the amenities included will be multipurpose allotments for community gardens, a cafe, passive recreation spaces, a playground and small sport fields.

In addition it is expected to have fully functioning floodlighting so as to provide security and protecting during evening times and when daylight hours are restricted. The current community garden will be “relocated” to the new park. It is expected to also connect Bridgefoot street to the Binary Hub and Digital Hub, giving the area a boost in profile (and probably house prices too).

While one should be happy to see urban regeneration in an area that has been neglected for quite a long time, its hard not to see some blatant flaws with the current plan.

Firstly, the current community garden is just that, a community garden. With very limited funding a group of men, led by the formidable and late Richard Taplin forged, quite literally with their bare hands, a fully functioning garden from the wasteland that existed there. It was nothing short of a minor urban miracle. An example of what determined people could achieve with willpower alone. Was it the most beautiful garden in the world? No, it was rough and ready, but proud, like the area and men with birthed it. I remember going down there as my first reporting assignment with the FRG and seeing men that society had forgotten, find a place and a purpose for themselves. Not only that they turned the place into an oasis in the desert of urban callousness for other world weary souls looking for spiritual salvation.

You could go down there any day and see men making fully functioning benches from old wooden pallets, or garden stalwart Bob rescuing injured pigeons. Like the birdman from Oliver Bond, all he would have to do was shake his can of oats and corn, and pigeons from all over would come to greet him and perch on his shoulders. Then there was the gardening itself, the lads were really talented and the jam and chutney they produced was fantastic. They tried to sell their wares so as to raise funding, but of course they were prevented by some clipboard wielding jobsworth. Nevertheless, it was impressive.

And now that is about to be all gone. And I’m sure the great Messiah’s over at Dermot Foley Architects will build fantastic allotments and all the mainstream papers (that see working class Dublin as little more than a zoo) will snap away at people tilling the soil and ask the infuriatingly patronizing questions that only the mainstream media know how to ask working class people. They’ll probably even get Dermot Gavin and laugh as they get some woman to ask him a stupid gardening question. They’ll even pretend they think we are the same species of human that day.

But just know, no sterile excuse for gentrification (which lets be honest, we all know this park will be) will replace the purpose and soul that the Bridgefoot Street Community garden represents.

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