Róisín Walsh, a resident of Chapelizod, started a petition last September to try and draw the council’s attention to the lack of a playground for families in the neighbourhood.
Although there are playgrounds nearish – within 1km as the crow flies, according to a council map, although Google Maps says 1.3km – the walk to them isn’t safe with kids in tow, says Walsh.
“We get in the car to go to the playground, that’s really it,” she says. “They need a playground to interact with their peers. It’s just not within a safe distance.”
She should be able to walk with her kids to somewhere nearby, she says, and not have to drive out of the already traffic-choked village to get to one.
Dublin City Council has been rolling out new playgrounds in the city. In 2021 and 2022, the council added five new playgrounds in the city. (The council now has 71 playgrounds, suggest figures in reports.)
But it hasn’t responded to queries sent on 26 August as to whether it has plans for a playground in Chapelizod, or what budget it currently has for new playgrounds.
The council’s play strategy 2021-2025 says it aims to have fully equipped play facilities within 10 minute walking distance from homes, addressing areas with deficits.
An Unsafe, and Lengthy, Walk
The nearest playground to Chapelizod is next to the Ballyfermot Sports Complex, a 1.3 km walk away.
But Walsh says the footpath and pedestrian crossings on the way aren’t safe, particularly coming from where she lives in an estate off the Lucan Road.
Also, the walk up the Chapelizod Hill Road from the centre of Chapelizod is steep, she says, so it’s a tough walk for young kids.
Walsh and her kids once walked along Kylemore Road to get to the playground, she says, but she found it too narrow and close to busy traffic.
“I nearly had an accident with the children that day,” she says.
That was at a pedestrian crossing next to the Chapelizod Bypass, which flies over the Kylemore Road. “There wasn’t enough room to have the buggy and the toddler walking beside you,” she says.
“It was a real struggle, and she started putting her feet on the road, so I had to pull her in off the road,” she says. “It really could have ended really badly. It’s dangerous, it’s very very dangerous.”
Getting to both the playgrounds in the Phoenix Park is too far to walk as well, she says. “That’s no real distance that you’d expect a toddler to walk.”
Fergal Downes, also a resident of Chapelizod, says that when bringing his children to the playground, will either drive or cycle to the Phoenix Park, or to playgrounds in Palmerstown or Blanchardstown.
“We’re lucky in that we have the [Phoenix] Park as a place to go with families, but in terms of amenities within the village area, there really isn’t any,” he says.
A new playground can cost between €50,000 and €200,000, says the council’s play strategy 2021–2025.
In 2021 and 2022, the council has built four new big playgrounds: two in Ballyfermot, the Le Fanu Playpark and Ballyfermot People’s Park; and one in the Liberties in the newly built Bridgefoot Street Park.
It also built a small playground in a pocket park in Montpellier Gardens, a housing estate in Stoneybatter.
A new playground is being built in Diamond Park off Gardiner Street in the north inner-city, where park improvements are currently under construction, said a council spokesperson on Tuesday.
Sophie Nicoullaud, an independent councillor, says there aren’t any specific plans for a playground in Chapelizod.
The last she was told by council officials was that any plans would have to be provided for in the city’s capital budget, she says.
She finds that the council is slow to get back on projects, she says. “You ask something, and then, you know, five months later you still have no reply.”
“It’s all vague, and it’s all, it’s not for this year, but we could do next year, but you don’t know, and it all depends on finance, and I don’t know. That’s where it’s at,” says Nicoullaud.
But there isn’t a playground close enough for Chapelizod residents, she says. “It would be good to have one.”
Walsh says that every child in Dublin should have the right to walk safely to school and to a playground.
But in Chapelizod, it’s so traffic-choked that it’s not possible, she says.
In June, the council commissioned a report to look into where pedestrian crossings, one-way systems, footpath widenings and segregated cycle lanes could help make getting around the village without a car easier.
For people to drop their cars, amenities need to be closer by, says Walsh. “So we can do that with our families without adding to the issue and the traffic and our own carbon footprint,” she says.
“It’s kind of ludicrous, in Dublin, to do that, and there shouldn’t be any need for it,” she says.
Downes says there aren’t enough creches, doctors’ surgeries or bus routes in the village. “We’re chronically under-resourced in everything.”
Walsh says there used to be two playgrounds in Chapelizod, one in St Lawrence’s Grove and another where the Springvale Apartments are being built.
Chapelizod is being built up but it isn’t getting the amenities it needs to cope with more residents – or to replace those knocked for developments, such as Magic Moments Creche on Chapelizod Road which closed in June.
“Nobody’s being held to account,” she says.