EVENTS

            Members Reports and Photos

 

 

SATURDAY  25th OCTOBER 2014,    WATERSTOWN PARK, PALMERSTOWN, CO. DUBLIN
 
LEADER: SHANE LOMBARD
 
The area that comprises Waterstown Park was, until the mid-1980s, a family farm. In 1990, it was acquired by South Dublin County Council who began to develop and landscape the site. One of the first tasks was to vent a grass-covered dump that was leaking highly flammable methane gas. Concurrently, large numbers of trees, two thirds of which were native Irish, were planted. The initial plantations of Alnus glutinosa (Alder), Aesculus hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut), and Acer species (Maple) did not survive and were later replaced by Corylus avellana (Hazel), Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn) and Prunus padus (Bird Cherry). In addition, the Council constructed paths; a circular cycling track; and a car park, which is shared with the adjoining Stewarts Hospital. The Park was opened officially in 2009 and, as well as being a significant amenity for the local population, provides access to other areas of the Liffey Valley.

The Park is covered by the Liffey Valley Special Amenity Area Order and is one of the most ecologically important parks in Dublin. It consists of eight distinct habitats, including woodland, wet grassland, and mature hedgerows; and is home to 300 species of plants, animals, birds, and insects. Among the latter, the rare Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album). In 1991, members of the DNFC surveyed the area and made a number of recommendations. Unfortunately, many of the these have not been implemented.
Shane began the outing with an introduction to the history of the immediate environs. In pre-Christian times Yew Trees (Taxus baccata) in the locality were associated with pagan rituals, and centuries later Viking Longships plied the Liffey on their way to Leixlip. In the 18th century, a number of mills for printing and iron works, and for other products such as dyestuffs, were situated here on the riverside at Palmerstown. These were powered by a millrace, parts of which still exist, and which supports colonies of the rare Flowering Rush Butomus umbellatus and many aquatic plants.

As we strolled towards the river, we took time on the way to inspect Waterstown House, dating from 1760, but now sadly in ruins. Further along there were excellent views of what is know locally as the White Bridge (Silver Bridge), a Victorian construct, built primarily to carry water pipes from a power station on the south bank of the Liffey to the water tank in the Clock Tower at Farmleigh House. The latter, whose clock was designed by Howard Grubb, was clearly visible, poking its head above surrounding trees. The bridge is no longer functional as its deck has been dismantled for safety reasons. Staff from Palmerstown, working on the Farmleigh Estate, was never allowed to use the bridge and crossed the river by a ferry, which operated until the 1940s.

On the right bank of the Liffey, which forms the northern boundary of the Park, we noted plants such as Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet), Scrophularis nodosa (Common Figwort), Solarum dulcamara (Bittersweet), Veronica beccabunga (Brooklime), Anthriscus sylvestris (Cow Parsley), and the alien Impatiens glandulifera (Himalayan Balsam). The “Liffey Specialities”, Lamiastrum galeobdolon (Yellow Archangel) and Hypericum hirsutum (Hairy St. John’s-wort), also grow along the bank.

As we completed our circuitous walk, we enjoyed views of the Strawberry Beds, watched members of local canoe clubs training on the river, and admired limestone stonework on some newly restored walls. All the while, looming over us nearby, was the lofty height of the West-Link Bridge the antithesis of its Victorian neighbour the Silver Bridge.

 

    

River Liffey and Waterstown Park map

 

River Liffey                                                                                     Silver Bridge

   

Riverside                                                  Winter foliage                                                                         

   

Pinus sylvestris                         Cycle [motor]way                                                 Waterstown House

   

                  Millrace                                                                 DNFC                                  Asplenium scolopendrium 

     

Solanum dulcamara                Geranium robertianum                Filipendula ulmaria

                                           

  Impatiens glandulifera                       Hedera helix                           Fallopia balsdschuanica 

autumn Fungus 

                             

Photographs and Report © P. Lenihan

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