Space to Grow

george reynolds house1

A number of residents of George Reynolds House have been actively involved in a self-organised horticultural development project on its grounds. However, there is also an increasing frustration which has started to grow amid the new greenery.

The Irishtown complex has had a number of renovations over the past four years and whilst most of the work has been welcomed, many feel the upgrading didn’t go far enough. Anthony Byrne and Bernadette Keogh are two of the residents spearheading their own gardening and allotment campaign which they feel has been given little, if any, encouragement from the local authorities. Both spoke with NewsFour to highlight the initiative within the complex.

“It started as something to brighten up the place,” states Bernadette (a lifelong resident) before pointing to one of a number of concrete bedding troughs built by Dublin City Council. “When the corporation finished, these things were left with just weeds and all sorts of stuff.” The troughs now contain a variety of different flowers and vegetables. “We’d heard reports of how they renovated other places and then just let them go. Right from the beginning we said that’s not happening here. It took us a bit of time to get it going, but now everyone, especially the kids love it and most of them get involved.”

The pair said the prospects of growing vegetables slowly sparked enthusiasm amongst the residents. “When we started growing and giving out vegetables, all we asked in return was a packet of seeds. A lot of residents would then buy a packet when they could spare it,” explained Anthony.

Different seed types were usually followed with queries about growing different types of vegetables and this prompted Anthony to set up individual allotments. He admits enthusiasm of expansion may be subdued by both finances and local council policies. Private and council funding has been limited, but financial donations from local businesses such as Dyno-Rod and materials such as topsoil from gardeners in Ringsend have been seen as a huge local boost for the project.

It soon becomes clear to me that this is more a labour of love, but Anthony says there’s a bone of contention with local authorities regarding the large strip of land to the south of the complex. An uneven mounded area runs directly from the Dodder River pump house near London Bridge to Irishtown Road, and beneath the land tract lies a large flood overflow pipe which continues to an outlet at Sandymount. The residents want to use the land strip to expand the project into designated allotments, but Anthony says, “The council don’t know what to say or do about it. They won’t let any heavy work start on it due to the drains, and even the (council) gardeners aren’t sure what they’re to do with it either, yet nobody’s objected so far to us working on it.”

Anthony said residents currently take it in turns to manually level out the area themselves, despite repeated appeals to the council to clear and level the area during and since the renovations.
When contacted by NewsFour regarding the project, local Councillor Dermot Lacey said he was not aware of the project and would be anxious to help the residents in any way possible. He plans to raise the matter with the Council at their monthly meeting.

Pictured: Bernadette Keogh and Anthony Byrne.

By Eric Murphy