Lord Mayor of Dublin Daithí de Róiste opens Dublin City Council’s newest park St James Linear Park
Published on 11th September 2023
Dublin City Council today unveiled the second phase of work to reinvent the linear park at St James Park following extensive regeneration works by the Parks, Biodiversity and Landscape Services team.
The area between Fatima Luas stop and Basin Lane has been transformed into a large play and exercise area as part of the ongoing delivery of a masterplan for the linear park, which runs from the Grand Canal at Dolphin Road, Inchicore to the southside of the new Children’s Hospital at Rialto and the St. James’s Hospital Campus. The park follows the alignment of the Grand Canal Main Line, which served the Guinness brewery connecting the Grand Canal Harbour and the City Basin.
Speaking at the park opening the Lord Mayor said, “What was previously an uninviting, dark thoroughfare has been reimagined into this wonderful linear park. St James Linear Park now provides safe spaces and facilities for exercise for all age groups; space to walk and cycle safely and space for communities to gather, communicate and garden. A true neighbourhood park.”
St James Linear Park comprises a linear portion of green space approximately 1.16km in length, extending from Suir Road Bridge to Basin View in Dublin 8. The surrounding environs are largely residential. The revamped park provides a safe, usable and inviting amenity in the Liberties, a park that through high-quality place-making will become integral to the local community and a destination in its own right.
Dublin City Council and the local community worked together on the vision, promotion, planning, design and development of the park and this collaboration will continue in the management and operation, this will be key to the success of the park.
A number of community engagement sessions and consultations took place with local residents and key stakeholders; Transport Infrastructure Ireland, St. James’ Hospital and the currently under construction National Children’s Hospital. This feedback set the challenge for the design team to make the communities vision a reality.
The redesign of the park has been led by Suzanne O’Connell, Executive Landscape Architect, Dublin City Council Parks, Biodiversity & Landscape Services, assisted by landscape designers Áit Urbanism + Landscape. The phase II works were undertaken by a landscape contractor Redlough Landscapes.
The linear park is now fully accessible with a new pavement with play and exercise elements interspersed around the park. The ground has been shaped to be playful by encouraging meandering, running, jumping, climbing up and down the informal steps, mounds and formal play elements.
Formal and informal opportunities for seating have been installed including a large communal bench beside the edible garden which can be used as an outdoor classroom and for picnics. To enhance local biodiversity, additional trees, shrubs and perennials have been planted in addition to the new community garden.
A new community garden has also been created. The Edimental (edible/ornamental) garden has been active since early 2023 involving around 30 local residents with fruit trees and raised beds that are filled with plants that can be harvested and eaten.
The works uncovered some beautiful granite, part of the original canal basin known as ‘The Gut’. The Gut referred to a bottleneck on the original canal that at busy times of the year, such as the barley harvest, barges would be back up as far as Rialto Bridge waiting to enter the harbour/basin. While it was expected to find elements of the canal, the quality of the stonework and the extent proved a surprise. The finds required some tweaking of the original design concept to incorporate this stonework into a new amphitheatre-like terrace creating a sunny south-facing communal space.
The final section of St James Linear Park, between Fatima and Rialto Luas stops in front of the new Children’s Hospital Ireland, will be completed in 2024-5, when the hospital is completed.
Notes to the Editor:
St James Masterplan
In 2018, Áit Urbanism + Landscape Ltd (Áit) was appointed by Dublin City Council Parks, Biodiversity, and Landscape Services to develop concept options for St James Linear Park, covering a 1.16km open space adjacent to the 'Red' Luas line. It stretches from Suir Road Bridge in the west to Basin View in the east. This park serves as a crucial urban access link, providing walking, cycling, and amenity space for a large community, including residents from Kilmainham, Rialto, Maryland, Fatima, and The Liberties, as well as stakeholders from St. James’s Hospital, the National Children’s Hospital, and three schools on Basin Lane.
Following extensive consultation with local residents and stakeholders, Áit developed a masterplan to present a new vision for the park. The proposal seeks to provide high quality recreational spaces and provide a safe and accessible walking and cycling route through the park, incorporating the entrances to St James’s Hospital, the National Children’s’ Hospital and the existing Luas stops along the route.
Design and detailing for Phase 1 & 2 was finalised by the Parks Landscape Architect team following consultation with over 100 participants that included, site walks, workshops, online conversations and dialogue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phase 1 was completed in February 2022 by Cairn construction encompassing the lands beside the Fatima LUAS station and the MISA entrance. The park improvements created a new small plaza for public gathering and a coffee cart that Dash café now occupy, improved circulation from the Fatima Luas platform to the hospital entrance featuring high-quality hard and soft landscaping finishes.
The Community Garden:
Part of the garden's overall approach is ensuring the scheme is drought resistant, adapting to climate change that has resulted in hotter, dryer summers in Dublin in recent years. The garden has been supported by 3 workshops hosted by Suzie Cahn from Dulra Permacutlure Farm and it has been experimented with two planted approaches:
One bed is constructed using the hugelkultur method – a deep bed layered with branches, leaves and composts that create sponge-like conditions in the soil with high organic matter to improve soil structure, water retention and availability for plants. The bed is bounded with a curved gabion wall laid out in a keyhole structure at hip height to support access to planting.
The second bed is 600mm high filled with 500mm depth of sand and topped with 100mm larger beach stones creating a very low nutrient and high drainage medium. Plants here have adapted to these conditions growing large tap roots to access water below. Salvia, Strawberries and herbs are thriving!
Four Terraces Tenants Association, Rialto Environmental Group, New Ireland Road, Upper Cross Road, Portmahon Drive Residents Group & Mountshannon Road Resident Group.
The F2 Centre, St James’s Hospital, Canalway Educate Together & St James’s Primary School.
Consultants: Áit Urbanism + Landscape Ltd, Fred Hammond, Archaeological & Built Heritage, Lia Philcox (film).
Contractors: Redlough Landscape contractors, Dulra Permaculture Farm (Edimental garden), Omos Furniture (long table), Eimear Mc Nally & Triskill Design (mural), Jason Barcoe, The Dry Stone Wall Association of Ireland