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  • Northside West

Lighting the way

Friday, 23rd December, 2016 8:00am

Story by Jack Gleeson
Lighting the way

Gabriel Byrne of Fantasy Lights and Ciara Dowling of Dublin City Parks Department at the lighting up of the Blessington Basin. PHOTO: CONOR MCCABE PHOTOGRAPHY

Lighting the way

Gabriel Byrne of Fantasy Lights and Ciara Dowling of Dublin City Parks Department at the lighting up of the Blessington Basin. PHOTO: CONOR MCCABE PHOTOGRAPHY

ONE of Dublin’s hidden gems became a Christmas wonderland last week as Dublin City Council lit up the little-known but much-loved Blessington Street Basin.

And the magical park, often referred to as Dublin’s Secret Garden, is set to become the keystone in a long-term plan by the council to introduce a walking route from Glasnevin Cemetery all the way down to O’Connell Street.

The park, which is 80 per cent water and lies at the end of Blessington Street, is a ten-minute walk from O’Connell Street and is also accessed on the other side through the filled in former Royal Canal Bank park just off the North Circular Road.

And it is this connectivity which will see it become an important part of a walking route from the cemetery, down by Cross Guns Bridge and through the Royal Canal Bank park and the Basin to the top of O’Connell Street, according to Niall Byrnes of Dublin City Council.

A series of trees and the former park keeper’s lodge have been strategically lit by Dublin City Council and Fantasy Lights around the former city reservoir, which was last used over 100 years ago to supply the Irish Whiskey Distillery.

“I didn’t know about The Basin until I was told where it was and then I couldn’t believe it,” said Gabriel Byrne of Fantasy Lights.

“This has been a really fantastic collaborative effort between the City Council and the local community and it has resulted in a beautiful, atmospheric showpiece park for Christmas, right in the heart of our city.”

A voluntary committee was formed by 20 local people to promote a Pride of Place initiative and, as a result, Dublin City Council’s Central Area agreed to financially support a Christmas lighting showpiece.

The lighting was officially switched on this week by Cllr Ciaran Cuffe, Chairman, Central Area Committee, who described the park as a little wonderland.

One of the amazing willow trees lit for the festive season is arranged around a magical fairy village, put together by Dublin City Council craft gardener, Ciara Dowling, who works at the Basin.

“I had no knowledge of the Basin until I started working here, but it really is an amazing place,” said Ciara.

Blessington Street and its surrounding districts originate from the Georgian era, but much of the neighbouring district was built to Victorian design such as Berkeley Street, Primrose Street, Wellington Street and Goldsmith Street.

The area was very much influenced by Lord Gardiner and Lord Mountjoy and over the years many well-known people have lived here such as James Joyce, Sean T O Ceallaigh and Michael Collins.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here