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First Look at Weaver Park

First Look at Weaver Park – Tony Kennedy and Photographer Stephen Davis takes a look at the new Cork Street Public Space, Weaver Park

Whilst taking a walk down Cork Street a few days ago I noticed something different. Gone were much of the hording that scarred the street, and in its place, there seemed to be a skateboard park under a big sign that said “Weaver Park”. Intrigued, I decided to return a day later and find out more.

The first think of note when I entered was a guy washing down one of the concrete ramps. Assuming he was an employee of the park, I asked him did he work there, hoping he could afford me some information. I was pleasantly surprised when he told me that he didn’t work in the park, he just was just helping to maintain the ramps for him and his fellow skaters.

With that, I struck up a conversation with him and some of the skaters about how the park came to be, and who was responsible for its maintenance. One guy explained to me that since the early 2000s the site was derelict. Residents had campaigned for some time to have the site turned into a park. However, as is the wont of planning permission in Ireland, years went by without any tangible progress. There had also been interest in the site from the supermarket ALDI to build a store on the site.

However, in 2013, as part of their “greening project” Dublin City Council won the tender to develop the site into a park. And in conjunction with a skateboard activist group called “Skate D8” it was decided that there would also be raised sculptural features that would act as ramps for skateboarders. Also behind the Skateboarding area is a playground for young children.

The skateboarders who I talked to were keen to mention how the park acts as a hub for all skateboarders in the area, and the sense of community that imbibes. Indeed, when I was there, I was impressed by the various nationalities (Irish, French, Brazilian and American) all enjoying the park together.  One of the guys told me that the previous Saturday there were over 30 skaters in the park at the same time. When I asked did it get difficult to skate with so many people there, he told me that skateboarders adhere to a certain etiquette that ensures the smooth operation of the park.

Being something of a malcontent by nature, I asked was there anything about the park they don’t like? One of the guys pointed out that all along the perimeter of the skating area are banks of pebbles. Sometimes these pebbles find their way onto the concrete area which then get caught in the bearings of the skateboards and mess up wheels and can cause nasty falls. As such, it is not unusual to see skateboarders with brooms clearing the pebbles away. The skateboarders pointed out that sometimes when kids and teenagers come to the park they create a nuisance for the skaters by blocking ramps and engaging in anti-social behaviour. Even so the skateboarders remain positive.  Some have even talked about holding fundraisers to buy skateboards for the kids and teach them how to use them.

The popularity of skateboarding in Ireland has had peaks and valleys. The last time it was popular here was in the early to mid-2000s, when shows like Jackass and video games like Tony Hawks impressed themselves on the zeitgeist of youth culture. Its popularity has waned since then. However, with the building of skate parks and skate plazas, skateboarders hope that it can become popular again. And considering the problem of obesity, it would be great if skateboarding became a popular trend again.  It can burn a lot of calories, and is significantly more enjoyable than an hour running on the spot in a gym. As one of the skateboarders I met succinctly put it, “the purpose of energy is joy”.

One Response

  1. Fantastic read . well done.

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