City desk

In The Tenters, Many Dogs and Little Green Space

Oscar Square Park, a triangular patch of green in the Coombe, was locked for decades before locals campaigned for it to be reopened in 2010, and won.

Since then, it has served local families and the growing number of dogs in the neighbourhood — an area with an acknowledged lack of green space.

But a few months back, without notice or consultation, the park’s opening times were shortened, and Dublin City Council withdrew the deal that was in place for a local resident to keep the keys.

Now, all sides are hoping to find a working compromise.

Enjoyment Of All 

In some years past, Oscar Square Park — also know to some as the Rosary Park — only opened on Sundays.

Local residents would gather with the priest at the central statue of Our Lady. When they were done, the park would be locked up again.

Andrew Foley has lived near the square for 14 years, and remembers a time when it was never open.

“When we first moved in, this park was just locked,” he says. “What was said was that it was anti-social behaviour late at night. But those times are gone and it’s been back open six or seven years now.”

But after several complaints over the last few months, Dublin City Council decided to change the opening times. Instead of 8:15 am, the park should only be unlocked from 10:00 am.

The council also took the keys back from a local resident who used to open the park in the morning and close it in the evening.

Some residents, like Foley, weren’t happy.

Ongoing Complaints

The problem was too many dogs early in the morning, said an email response from the council’s Parks Department, fielded through the press office. “This was causing a noise nuisance in particular and other problems relating to dogs in parks.”

The council had five complaints either by phone or raised with staff working in the square, said the press office.

The change in opening times, without prior notice, was “an easy option” for the council, says Foley. “The people who lost out were people who had to get to work. You saw people no longer coming here.”

“There’s been some negativity, some comments which were very disappointing,” he says. “A lot of people were upset, though, about the key-holder arrangement [being taken away].”

Labour Councillor Rebecca Moynihan thinks the council’s reaction was hasty.

“They were acting on foot of a reasonably small number of complaints,” she says. “There are a couple of residents who want to change the opening hours, but essentially, I think their problem is with dogs.”

This all ties in to the wider issue

of a lack of green space in Dublin 8, Moynihan says.

“We have a significant lack of green space,” she says. “We have never been prioritised for green space when we have had a significant amount of building.”

Moynihan says that while not everybody has been happy with more and more dogs in Oscar Square Park, the solution is not to reduce the opening hours. There should be other options.

“Oscar Square shows that,” she says. “You have so many people going in to use this tiny little space because it’s the only space within a reasonable walking distance for them.”

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council’s press office says it is working on the lack of green space in Dublin 8 compared to other parts of the city. The Cork Street park is part of that.

In the interim, with Eamonn Ceannt Park a 28-minute walk away, residents hoping to use Oscar Square Park before work may have to wait.

A Compromise

At a meeting last Thursday, local residents and council officials agreed to bring the opening time forward to 9 am, a halfway house between the new and the old regime.

The key holder has the key back now, too.

It’ll be looked at again in a month to see how it’s going, said a spokesperson from the council’s press office.

Labour’s Moynihan says it’s impossible to guarantee dogs won’t bark first thing in the morning. But 9 am “isn’t an unreasonable time for something like that to happen in a city, at all,” she said.

Foley says, ultimately, the small space is for all. “It is a complaint and they’re right to have an issue,” says Foley. “Dog owners need to do as much as they can to be sympathetic.”

“For the six years it’s been open it’s been a brilliant understanding between dog owners and parents,” he says.

Keeping it open is key. “It’s been a fantastic lifeline for people who, say, live on their own,” he says, “and need this as a social outlet for themselves.”

Cónal Thomas portrait
Cónal Thomas

Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach him at cthomas@dubinq.com

 

Comments

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  2. dave
    3 August at 21:48

    If ever there was an absurdist 21st century version of The Field waiting to be made this is surely it. Scrapping over what little green space there is… in Ireland of all places. Would go down a riot overseas I’d imagine.

  3. Eileen
    4 August at 12:25

    The dispute is not about the green space, rather it’s about some people and dogs causing a disturbance early in the morning and probably in the evening too. People who live adjacent to the park have a legitimate cause to complain. People need to take responsibility for their animals and clean up after them and not allow them to run wild.

  4. Eamon
    4 August at 16:31

    Responsible owners do clean up after their own and others, including random rubbish thrown into the square. Likewise they try to curb any Barking and are keeping dogs to the opposite side from the residents who have complained. However this is after 9am in a city, where for example work on an adjacent building site begins at 7am… Compromise is definitely achieveable, and would be a lot simpler if people said hello rather than slinging muck (dog or otherwise). The park, including dog owners, enhances the neighbourhood, shutting some out is the antisocial response.

  5. Patrick
    9 August at 21:36

    I’ve been a regular with my dog to this park for the past 2 years and couldn’t recall even a handful of “barking” dogs during this time. There does be the odd bark now and again but nothing consistent. However, there is a dog (I think it may even be two small dogs) that live in one of the houses on the south corner of the park. The dog(s) are often locked in their little front garden barking at the dogs playing inside the park. It would be great if these residents had some consideration for their neighbours and the people that visit the park (dog owners don’t want to hear yapping dogs either). Out of all the parks in Dublin, I have always found this park is the best in terms of responsible dog owners. It would be a big loss to the area to have it restricted.

  6. Joe
    28 February at 19:23

    There so little green space for children to play in dublin 8.

    As a resident of the Tenters with my wife and Children for over 20 years I can say that since the park as been opened, It has been used as a dumping ground for dogs.

    While locked, It was clean and kids would climb over to play and climb trees.

    The flowers that were planted are all gone and now the flower bed is just muck, the grass is awful and the ground is full of holes.

    My children are no longer able to play in it, they regularly come home with dog feces on their shoes, clothes and hands. And not to mention how 95% of people ignore the dog on a lead rule(after 11am) which means their football is burst by dogs running after it.

  7. Fiona
    1 March at 14:08

    I grew up in the Tenters. Whenever I walk by the park now all I see is three or four adults with five or six dogs that are not on leads. It always had children playing in it in the 1990’s. I would not want my children to play in it anymore. The park is muddy with many holes dug by dogs and the street surrounding the park have an unholy amount of dog poo on them.

    I even heard someone in the park say on there phone, ”im in the dog park”

  8. Patrick
    1 March at 15:04

    @Joe: Joe, I’ve lived beside the park for the past 4 years and I think you may be exaggerating a bit by saying that the park is “dumping ground” for dogs! I agree that plenty dogs use the park. However, the vast majority are completely under control by responsible owners.

    Fiona, the dog poo issue is disgusting and any dog owner found not picking up should be dealt with. However, I’m sure you would agree that the council could help the issue by providing bins. Maybe I am imagining things but I feel like bins have slowly disappeared from various streets in Dublin 8 over the years.

  9. aoibheann
    2 March at 04:36

    I do not allow my kids to play, unsupervised in Oscar Square park. It’s a safety issue. When my eldest child play in it, during the early 2000’s, there was only the odd puppy here an there. Now there’s a consistent flow of people from around and a far, that let their dog run around without a leash. Despite the fact, that all dogs are to be on leashes after 11am. Which I never see.

    I think the overuse of dogs has been a grave oversight by the council, when they opened it up.

    There should of been a moratorium on access for dogs when the flower bed that the council built around the statue of Mary became a mud pit with numerous hole and urine stains around the base of the statue. As of the last 5 years, the council has given up on planting new bulbs there.

  10. aoibheann
    2 March at 15:15

    The flower bed around the statue of Mary is a health hazard and an eyesore. Dog owners sit back an allow their pets to use our park as a toilet. Parks are for kids. Go can always walk your dog on the street like I do.

    https://twitter.com/FionaFountain81/status/837315960231055360

  11. Joe
    2 March at 15:39

    Patrick, stop making excuses and saying im exaggerating. There is a bin right outside the gate. Not that it helps as some people think its ok to pick up dog feces in a black bag and then drop it on the ground when out of sight.

  12. Cliodhna
    5 April at 16:44

    Suburb article Conal. I found it by google searching ”little green spaces for dogs, dublin8”

    It’s simply not far to complain about noise from dogs barking in the early morning, it’s just their way of saying good morning 😉 There are no green spaces for dog lovers here, compared to where I grew up in Dublin 4 and 6. I know , inner city life and all, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    I suggest knocking down those ugly, soviet like, state owned apartments that are everywhere in Dublin 8. eg Kevin street, leonards corner, thomas street, on the canal near Monelli Italian Restaurant etc etc.

    Bring them down and redevelop the land for parks, recreational facilities with gyms and swimming pools. Half of them look empty anyway and the people living there would welcome the new amenities.

  13. aoibheann
    25 April at 18:38

    @Cliodhna: Cliodhna. They’re not half empty. except for Donore ave which is being demolished, and why would the people living in those flats appreciate it, since they would have to live elsewhere. Talk about gentrification. ” i know, inner city life” my god.

  14. Brian
    22 June at 18:52

    I had the most unpleasant experience this evening as I took a short stroll into the rosary park in Donore ave. My stay was one of annoyance as I had to endure a noisy pack of dogs, seven is what I counted. Surely this is a breach of noise pollution laws.

    I sent a email to the address provided at the entrance to the park and I find myself repeating my opinion here, as upon a quick google, I find an article which encourages the parks use as a place for sole use by dogs.

    I cannot understand why Cllr Rebecca takes a one-sided, biased view. Was she not elected to represent all of us. I can assure her, that i take this view out out of annoyed of such load noises from several dogs and not out of some phantom dislike for the creatures.

  15. Sinead
    18 July at 17:04

    The kids should be supervised better! Let the dogs play a bit!!

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