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Why is there so few open spaces / squares in Dublin?

  • 28-06-2023 9:27am
    Registered Users Posts: 17

    Most European cities l, if not all, have beautiful open air areas in the middle of the towns, ie, town squares. These can be used for markets, outdoor events, restaurant or bar terraces etc.

    We have parks, yes, I acknowledge that. But that’s not the same thing. Our largest park, Phoenix Park is festooned with car parking spaces and cars belting through have priority. The people using it have to “ask” the drivers to cross dare they slow down cars in a park.

    It just seems grim to think about it. I’ve lived in Amsterdam and Madrid and been to every EU capital and several other provincial towns.

    Most of Cyprus isn’t much better than us mind.



  • Registered Users Posts: 16,214 ✭✭✭✭Grayson

    I've always felt that there are areas like college green and O'Connell st that could be used better. They could reduce the lanes in O'Connell st and turn the centre into an open area with bars, cafes and stalls.

    There's also squares that are underused. I think of places like the square on jervis next to the shopping centre and church bar. It could be a great meeting area but there's nothing there.

    It feels like they offloaded all that to the private sector.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,067 ✭✭✭MarkY91

    The square at the Jervis centre has a recent renovated. It's beautiful.. I'm not sure why you think it's underused as it's packed with people sitting around anytime I go past.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17 murphymick

    Look at Kraków. Beautiful open air area. Why can’t we block vehicular traffic on O’Connell St and emulate something like this?

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,717 ✭✭✭suvigirl

    Ah jaysis, you wouldn't want to be sitting in O Connell street trying to enjoy yourself.......

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,987 ✭✭✭✭Kintarō Hattori

    I'd guess historically climate might have played a part. Neither Ireland or the UK have town squares such as in the likes of Krakow above. Our climate has always been damper with a sunny warm summer not guaranteed. A guaranteed summer would have led to a lot of continental cities and towns developing thriving markets, cafes etc, which really didn't happen here. Just eating outside is culturally a fairly new thing in Ireland.

    Also, just a longshot but would the Romans have had anything to do with it? They never got as far as us :)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 17 murphymick

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,811 ✭✭✭mrslancaster

    That's a beautiful square but we'd need to knock down loads of buildings to give us an open space that size around o'connell street.

    We do the opposite in this country, we build on every bit of land available. Green spaces for public use in cities and towns? Nah, never happen.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,717 ✭✭✭suvigirl

    Cos O Connell Street is horrendous and I'm not sure pedestrianising it would improve it!

  • Registered Users Posts: 17 murphymick

    It’d be a start.

    Start by forcing out all the junkie scum.

    Round the clock Garda presence.

    Cover over the roads and replace with green areas.

    You’d be surprised what can be done.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,717 ✭✭✭suvigirl

    Oh I agree, I would be surprised if anyone ever bothered though!


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,451 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    bit late to really pedestrianise o'connell street with the luas running down it. plus having to rearrange all those bus routes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17 murphymick

    Could we not pedestrianise it and keep the Luas is a segregated corridor? Buses can be diverted down Parnell St if coming from the northside.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,498 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    26% of Dublin's land area is public open space; this compares quite well with other European cities. (Amsterdam 13%; Barcelona 28%; Brussels 13%; Lisbon 18%; Paris 10%).

    The difference, I think, is that Dublin's open space is much more suburban, and much more oriented towards green spaces and parks, and less to urban paved squares. There are historical reasons for this; mainly that Dublin was not a capital city hosting a court willing to commit resources to the construction of monumental civic spaces to project power and prestige, which accounts for a lot of fairly splendid open spaces in European cities. Climate also enters into it; in a city with Dublin's rainfall, paved public squares are dismal spaces a fair amount of the time. Green spaces do better in the rain than grey spaces.

  • Registered Users Posts: 29,277 ✭✭✭✭HeidiHeidi

    I've been in plenty of European cities where there's a middle strip down a main street, like in O'Connell Street, and the buildings are lined with bars and restaurants, the tables are in the middle bit (sometimes under cover), and the waiters and punters dodge the traffic from one to t'other. The set up on OCS is an absolute model for this.

    But a combination of the weather, our penchant for litigation, the absolutely mindbending shift in thinking that would be required, and just the planning nightmares involved (plus probably a whole load of other things, those are just off the top of my head) mean that will never happen.

    It's such a shame, because OCS could be a real flagship centrepiece for the city, instead of the filthy kip it currently is. (I'd settle for a team of roadsweepers and powerhoses to tackle it every single morning at 5am. That alone would transform it).

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,364 ✭✭✭con747

    Plenty of parks around Dublin, maybe not all around the city centre but still a lot around Dublin. "Parks form just over 17% of the land area of the city, that is some 2,020ha of the 11,761ha available.",228%20Community%20Grade%202%20Parks.

    Don't expect anything from life, just be grateful to be alive.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17 murphymick

    Climate also enters into it; in a city with Dublin's rainfall, paved public squares are dismal spaces a fair amount of the time. Green spaces do better in the rain than grey spaces.

    Amsterdam, Brussels and Copenhagen have very similar climates to us. Rainfall included.

  • Registered Users Posts: 813 ✭✭✭Homesick Alien

    Grand Canal Square is the only purpose built plaza/square in Dublin AFAIK. Gets a lot of people in summer evenings even though it has potential for more. It's not really in the centre though

  • Registered Users Posts: 17 murphymick

    There are historical reasons for this; mainly that Dublin was not a capital city hosting a court willing to commit resources to the construction of monumental civic spaces to project

    Dublin was always “a” capital. It may not have been the national capital when we were part of the UK but it was still Ireland’s capital in the same way Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital and Cardiff is Wales’ capital.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,057 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    Historic areas do, Georgian squares do.

    You have to say it's modern Irish planning is just bad.

    Take the Phoenix Park side since you mentioned it. They done very little to improve the transport links from D15 and bottlenecked many of the alternative routes. So it's not rocket science why is get diverts through the park.

    Opw had an opportunity to move the traffic to the perimeter when they closed the main road for almost a year. Instead they rebuilt it. Same with parking, they make no provision for parking on the boundary so people have to drive though the park to get to parking. No logic to it at all. It's a confused mess.

    Look at new estates very little green space in the plans. No central focus to new developments and towns. Look at 3 Arena, point village. They built a high rise office block on the existing plaza/ open space.

    It's just bad planning and we've been doing it since the foundation of the state.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,057 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    Then you have this ..

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  • Registered Users Posts: 280 ✭✭Arthur Pants

    Junkies and beggars, OP.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17 murphymick

    Why can’t the city have a small cluster of very high rise buildings in a location very close to centre such as the docks. Mixed purpose of offices and residential units. Free up the suburbs for green spaces instead of sprawl and allow open spaces in the very centre of town…

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,451 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    i remember during the lockdown, alice mary higgins raised in the seanad, that it should be a simple tenet that every resident of the city lives within a certain distance of a decent green space. i wonder has anyone calculated, for example, what percentage of dubliners live within say 1km of a council or OPW run park?

  • Registered Users Posts: 574 ✭✭✭iffandonlyif

    We haven’t got a particularly good track record with plazas – Smithfield, Meeting House Square in Temple Bar, the already mentioned Wolfe Tone Park at the end of Henry Street. I accept that none of those is ideally placed, but they illustrate the fact that you can’t just build it and expect a pedestrian realm to flourish.

    The point about weather is crucial. Not simply because markets and events can’t be held but because a wet and windswept plaza empty of people looks bleak. To my mind only College Green is crying out for conversion to a plaza. And not because of fantasies about thriving markets, etc, but because it would pull together Grafton Street, Trinity College, Temple Bar and O’Connell Street.

    And it can’t be denied that Stephen’s Green, the pedestrianised Grafton Street and the front square of Trinity College all provide elements of what European plazas do. It’s preposterous to say that Phoenix Park is packed with car parks. There are vast areas accessible only to walkers. If you find it oppressive to have to wait to cross a single road, that reveals grievances peculiar to yourself.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17 murphymick

    I live in County Dublin. I’m 50 metres from a park. The park is quite central. I live in a small town so the few thousand people are all within a 1.5 km walk of it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,160 ✭✭✭✭Thelonious Monk

    When I'm in town and want to chill out in the sun or eat outside, I go to Merrion Square or St Stephen's Green or Iveagh Gardens. All gorgeous city parks within a stones throw of each other. I used to work around Oxford Circus in London and the few bits of green nearby that I could reach on my lunch break were nowhere near as nice.

    College Green could be nice whenever they pedestrianise it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17 murphymick

    If you find it oppressive to have to wait to cross a single road, that reveals grievances peculiar to yourself.

    Why should pedestrians have to yield to cars in what is (or should be) a green space primarily for pedestrians?

  • Registered Users Posts: 17 murphymick

    The national school is also beside the park. Most of the kids attending the school live in the vicinity (according to my neighbour who is the principal).

    The area is chocked with cars every morning and afternoon. Despite most kids living less than 2 km away. The disabled bays and bus stop for the school bus and the zebra crossings leading to the school are fair game.

  • Registered Users Posts: 137 ✭✭TagoMago

    Dublin is badly missing something like this, it only becomes more apparent when the weather is nice. When you see the huge crowds outside the Barge and right along the canal it becomes really apparent that we're really limited in this regard, there are very few other places to go. Some very nice parks but most have poor transport connections, close early or have few amenities close by.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 792 ✭✭✭CreadanLady

    Take away the car and all you'll be left with is junkies, winos and beggars.

    The MFV Creadan Lady is a mussel dredger from Dunmore East.