Last Saturday, September 8 I was asked to be one of the speakers at TEDx Dublin at the Grand Canal Theatre. I spoke about my practice as an artist and how it has focused on the subject of the Liffey.
In 2011 I installed a floating desert island on the river and lived there for a week. While sitting there, taking in the whole city from a very unique vantage point a very clear idea came to me.
I imagined a ribbon of green unfurling along the Liffey Quays, a 4km linear park extending the whole way between Heuston Station and Dublin port on both the North and South Quays.
The vast majority of the motorway along the quays has at least three lanes and in some stretches onstreet parking too.
This linear park would be created by removing this onstreet parking and shutting down the traffic lane closest to the river. Buses would have to share the traffic lane furthest away from the river.
Two lanes of traffic would be maintained at both sides of the river. The resulting freed up space would become a walkway/linear park along the quaysides.
The only considerable stretch of the quays that is not wide enough to accomodate this park is a 400m section of the north quays between the James Joyce Bridge and the Four Courts. A new boardwalk could be constructed in this area.
The campshires of the docklands area already exist as a linear park between the IFSC and the O2. Traffic lanes would not need to be removed in this area.
An architectural competition could be launched to find a design for the park that links these campshires with the existing boardwalk and the newly widened walkways along the quays.
Image: Brendan Redmond
New granite walls with inbuilt vertical planting could separate the park/walkway from the traffic.
The whole park would need a uniform design in relation to seating, lighting, paving and planting. Something as simple as a continuous ribbon of narrow green tiles could curve and flow along the whole length of the park and across the bridges to create a sense of a unified space.
A trust could be set up to manage and maintain the park and curate an ongoing series of projects including art installations, markets, gigs and walking tours.
Amenities to include sandpits, playgrounds, skateparks, a visitors centre, a floating swimming pool and a kayaking centre could be sited intermittantly along the park.
Image: Antoin Doyle
Image: Antoin Doyle
Image: Anna Monaghan
A visible team of gardeners, guides, volunteers and security could act as the face of the park and spread the message positively that anti social behaviour is not tolerated and that the Liffey quays have become a secure environment that everybody can enjoy. Without a doubt it would be challenging to enforce this shift but overtime surely possible!
Image: John Keating
An ongoing marketing and PR campaign would spread the good news that the Liffey Quays have become a must see, World class destination. The park would become the first port of call for visitors to the city.
Ultimitely the park could grow offshoots along neighbouring streets connecting the Liffey Quays with some of Dublin's most loved tourist attractions including the Phoenix Park, IMMA, Collins Barracks, the Guinness Storehouse, Christchurch Cathedral and Trinity College.
The Ribbon of Green would kickstart a renaissance that resonates right through the inner city. People from all types of socio-economic backgrounds would want to live along the Liffey and its' neighbourhoods. New buildings with family sized apartments could cater for this new demand. Shops and cafes would open along the quays catering for the thousands of people that would use the park on a daily basis.
Dublin exists because of the Liffey, the city grew around the river because of its transport connections and ready supply of water. The Liffey, Dublin's beating heart, its' central artery is the real centre of the city. It has become obsured and impossible to access due to the six lane motorway that funnels thousands of vehicles around it every day.
The Liffey needs a new frame, this park could become that. Let's make it happen!