Mar­lay Park could sus­tain ‘in­cal­cu­la­ble dam­age’

Con­certs and lake bridge will ru­ins vis­tas, claims Rath­farn­ham op­po­si­tion group

The Irish Times - - Home News - TIM O’BRIEN

“In­cal­cu­la­ble dam­age” would be done to Mar­lay Park in south Dublin if Dún Laoghaire-Rath­down County Coun­cil’s pro­posed master­plan for the park goes ahead, ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal group.

The Pro­tect Mar­lay Park group claims pro­vi­sion for pop con­certs and plans for a new bridge across the lake, to­gether with the re­moval of trees, would de­stroy the park’s his­toric vis­tas.

Mar­lay is a re­gional park in Rath­farn­ham con­sist­ing of about 100 hectares of es­tate land as­so­ci­ated with Mar­lay House.

The coun­cil de­scribes the house as “an im­por­tant com­po­nent of the his­toric land­scape on the fringe of Dublin City” and “an im­pres­sive ex­am­ple of an 18th-cen­tury walled demesne”.

The house is set in the foothills of the Dublin moun­tains amid land­scaped park­land, wood­land and ser­pen­tine wa­ter cour­ses and in­cludes a court­yard and walled gar­dens.

Nat­u­ral her­itage

Fol­low­ing an in­for­ma­tion meet­ing in Mar­lay House last Thurs­day night, the Pro­tect Mar­lay Park group was sharply crit­i­cal of the master­plan, call­ing for it to be post­poned un­til more doc­u­ments on the built and nat­u­ral her­itage were cir­cu­lated and con­sid­ered.

The group said it was “par­tic­u­larly dis­ap­pointed” that the master­plan takes em­pha­sis from a doc­u­ment en­ti­tled Built Her­itage of Mar­lay Park com­mis­sioned from spe­cial­ist con­sul­tants, which the group said was not avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic.

Spokes­woman Mary Kelly said the group was de­nied ac­cess to the doc­u­ment, on the ba­sis that it is still only at the draft stage.

Ms Kelly said it was “also dis­ap­point­ing” that there was no ref­er­ence to any his­toric land­scape as­sess­ment hav­ing been car­ried out by the coun­cil, “as is rec­om­mended by the Depart­ment of Cul­ture, Her­itage and Gaeltacht”.

Land­scape ar­chi­tect

The park­land and the lake were laid out by Thomas Leggett and later Hely Dut­ton, and the de­sign is greatly in­flu­enced by the work of Lancelot “Ca­pa­bil­ity” Brown, the fa­mous English land­scape ar­chi­tect.

Ac­cord­ing to draw­ings made in the 1830s by Anne La Touche of the bank­ing fam­ily who once lived in the house, the lay­out of the park and lake ap­pears to have changed lit­tle, although paths, bridges and car parks have been added in re­cent years.

Dún Laoghaire-Rath­down County Coun­cil was asked to com­ment on the master­plan, but a re­ply was not forth­com­ing.

Pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion

How­ever, Cathaoir­leach Os­sian Smyth said he would ask coun­cil staff to en­sure that all doc­u­ments re­lied upon in the draft master­plan were made avail­able to those who wanted to com­ment.

“If nec­es­sary we can ex­tend the pe­riod for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion,” he said. Mr Smyth said Mar­lay was a very im­por­tant park and hav­ing “ex­cel­lent parks” was some­thing the coun­cil did very well.

He would not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual sub­mis­sions un­til he had read them, but he was “de­lighted” so many peo­ple were in­ter­ested in the parks.

While call­ing for the master­plan to be de­ferred, the Pro­tect Mar­lay Park group has made a sub­mis­sion on the pro­posed man­age­ment of the demesne.

The group said the pro­posed bridge across the pond “must not be con­structed” as it would vi­o­late the prin­ci­ples of the “Brow­n­ian-style land­scape”.

“In such land­scapes, the ‘ser­pen­tine’ ponds are un­in­ter­rupted. Bridges are placed at the ends of ponds and not across them.

“This is the case in Mar­lay Park,” the group said.

The sub­mis­sion also calls for the au­then­tic wood­land path­way ad­ja­cent to the GAA pitches to be re­tained.

The group said this path has not been sur­faced with tar­ma­cadam and is an ex­am­ple of what the his­toric paths in Mar­lay looked like.

It also said the Grange Road toi­let block should be re­tained and its bat-roost­ing po­ten­tial sup­ported. If no longer to be used as toi­lets, this build­ing could be used for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses.

Among other rec­om­men­da­tions the group said the weirs should be re­paired, and me­tal rail­ings should be re­moved from the wood­land bridges ad­ja­cent to the weir and made good in ac­cor­dance with the orig­i­nal landscaping.

The group com­plained that a ha-ha in the grounds, es­sen­tially a ditch that pre­vented cat­tle from mov­ing across the land­scape with­out the visual in­tru­sion of a fence, should not be sub­ject to any fur­ther dis­tur­bance such as the plac­ing of tem­po­rary bridges across it for con­cert use.

The group was par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal of the im­pact of con­certs on the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment say­ing bats and glebes which are pro­tected species have been im­pacted and may be in decline.

The master­plan is avail­able on the coun­cil’s web­site, dl­r­coco.ie, and many of the re­ports on which it is based are ac­ces­si­ble.

Sub­mis­sions or ob­ser­va­tions should be made by August 17th, prior to the plan be­ing fi­nalised.

PHO­TOGRAPHS: CYRIL BYRNE

Mar­lay Park in Rath­farn­ham: Mem­bers of the Pro­tect Mar­lay Park, Mar­lay House and the lake.

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