Turtle Bunbury

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From 'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyageby Turtle Bunbury (MPG, 2008).



Between 1948 and 1978, the southern half of the Pigeonhouse precinct was used as the Irishtown Tip Head. This created a sizeable artificial hillock which today forms the basis of Irishtown Nature Park. A new sewage treatment plant was installed within this park in 1985 and caters to most of the sewage from south Dublin. The park is now a surprisingly wild and rugged refuge for birds, wild flowers, insects and the occasional white-chested stoat, with many a Sunday walker looping across its heath.


The last moments of Leonard Abrahamson’s acclaimed 2004 movie ‘Adam and Paul’ were filmed against the backdrop of Irishtown Nature Park. Sean Moore Road provided the setting for Perry Ogden’s award-winning 2005 film ‘Pavee Lackeen: The Traveller Girl’. The Poolbeg power station and the Pigeon House Hotel doubled as a futuristic London for the €70 million dragon flick, Reign of Fire. Directed by Rob Bowman and starring Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale, this turkey is presently the most expensive film ever shot in Ireland.


During the 1980s, Sean Moore Park was the only recreational public space available within the Dublin Docklands. Originally called Sandymount Beach Park, this extensive park was given to the people of Sandymount in 1980 by Dublin Port Company. It was to be held in fee simple, in perpetuity, in trust by Dublin City Council for the public. In 1987, the park was renamed after Ringsend born Fianna Fáil politician, Sean Moore (1917 – 1986). This reclaimed parkland is already a haven for flora and wildlife, with numerous species of birds foraging in the damp mosses. Large gatherings of Brent geese and the occasional peregrine have been spotted here in the evenings. A substantial bank was constructed along the eastern front as a defence against the wintry gales. Some of the park has been fenced off by the Clanna Gael Fontenoy GAA club for their new, flood-lit all-weather pitches.


In 2006, the 25-acre Irish Glass Bottle Company site on Sean Moore Road was purchased for €412 million by Becbay Ltd, a consortium consisting of private developers and the Docklands Authority. At one stage there was talk that the former Ardagh glass plant would make a new national sports stadium. The Docklands Authority are currently preparing a draft planning scheme for 100 acres of the Poolbeg peninsula, including the IGBC site. In preparation for this scheme, an urban design framework has been prepared by West 8 Urban Planners in collaboration with a large multi-disciplinary team headed by Urban Initiatives. This follows an earlier framework plan for the area by acclaimed urban planners DEGW for Dublin City Council. The concept is to deliver a sustainable mixed-use development which will include social and affordable housing. There is also to be a major emphasis on nature and landscape, maintaining and extending the existing parklands and beaches, and on developing cutting edge 21st century amenities. Becbay Ltd are presently carrying out remediation work on the site, including decommissioning of plant, demolition of buildings and the removal of approximately two metres of underlying soil material. These works are expected to be complete by December 2009.


The Irish Glass Bottle Factory site lies next to the 12-acre (4.9 ha) South Wharf site owned by Liam Carroll's Fabrizia Developments. This formerly belonged to the late Henry Herbert, 17th Earl of Pembroke (1939 – 2003), an unconventional aristocrat who made his name directing ‘Emily’, an erotic movie with Koo Stark, as well as two rock documentaries about Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix, and a number of episodes of ‘Bergerac’ in the early 1980s. In 1969, the 17th Earl inherited the Pembroke estates from his father. He sold the Poolbeg Peninsula, comprising all the land between Ringsend Park and the lighthouse, to the Dublin Port and Docks for £300,000. In 1972 the Board sold 12 acres of this land to the IDA for £600, 000. Eight years later, those same 12 acres were sold at a loss of £50,000 to Allied Irish Bank who planned building a Sports and Social Club on them. In 1988, AIB abandoned the club concept and sold the site for a cool £24 million.


In 2007, ARUP, the global design consultancy and engineering giants, moved to a new office, designed by Fitzgerald Kavanagh + Partners, which rises out of the brick front of the former Irish Glass Bottle Company's headquarters. The original building was a restrained Art Deco-style 1930s building, notable for its early use of glass block, surmounted by a clock. With an expansive double-height lobby floored in fossil-rich Kilkenny limestone, the ARUP offices were hailed as ‘the greenest building in Dublin’. It has a glazed triple skin to reduce solar gain by 100 per cent and natural ventilation rather than air-conditioning.


On November 29th 1927, Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States, presented gold medals to two Ringsend men serving on the British steamer Olyeric. J. Dullin of Pembroke Cottages and A. Weafer of Stella Gardens were singled out for ‘their bravery on the high seas when rescuing two children, passengers and crew of the American schooner Valkyria’ a year earlier.



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