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community spirit

This wasteland of debris and syringes was transformed into a blooming garden

The power of teamwork.

10295142_319882544841976_2498647231482637903_o Mary's Abbey Garden Mary's Abbey Garden

A COMMUNITY GARDEN in Dublin’s city centre has been turned from a derelict site full of needles and weeds into a blooming green area.

Mary’s Abbey Garden has been transformed thanks to the work of Dublin City Council, Fieldwork and Strategies, the local community, and people on probation.

The former derelict site is now a green oasis where locals can relax in the busy city surrounded by flowers and greenery.

The garden was officially launched today by Lord Mayor Christy Burke.

It all began when locals approached F&S and DCC to ask them to help them transform the derelict site into something better.

NAMA owns the development site, and with the help of DCC it agreed on a two-year lease with locals.

20141018_122753_resized Grace at the launch DCC DCC

The locals formed a committee and also got public liability insurance for the site.

One of the committee members, Siobhan Howe, explained how it all went:

“We all live around the area and we saw a site that was a bit of an eyesore and we just  thought: wouldn’t it be great if something was done with that? And then we realised we could do something about it ourselves.”

She’s keen to encourage other people to contact the local authority if they spot a derelict part of their community that needs an overhaul.

“The message is it really is that easy – that DCC are really open to these kinds of projects and in a very short space of time we turned it into a garden from a derelict site.”

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It’s not just a garden for locals though, it’s for anyone passing by. With a location near the busy shopping sites of Capel St and Jervis St, and also the Smithfield area, it could be a great place to visit or stop in while eating an al fresco lunch.

“The idea I suppose is to get as many people to use it as possible,” said Siobhan.

It only works if people keep coming in. It’s not just for anyone who lives in the area or nearby – it’s for everybody.

Most of the things on the site are made from recycled materials, including pallets from the nearby fruit market.

“A lot of us live in apartments, and you tend not to get to know your neighbours,” said Siobhan, explaining the garden was a real chance to get to know people.

20141018_121928 (1) Mayor Christy Burke cuts the ribbon DCC DCC

It’s not about being a brilliant gardener either – it’s about getting stuck in and learning as you go.

“It just brings people together.”

Siobhan Maher, a project manager with Dublin City Council, was involved with the creation of the park.  DCC ensured that the site was cleared of any dangerous items, like syringes, before the community members went in to begin their work.

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“It was quite a job cleaning the site,” said Maher. “Once it was cleaned, the community were very active in getting it going. They have been there every Tuesday night.”

They still continue to meet, and are looking for local volunteers to join them.

With tall wildflowers, paving, and lots of greenery, the site is a far cry from what it used to be like. “It’s very much a recreational garden,” said Maher.

Speaking about the garden, the Lord Mayor said:

“This transformation of an otherwise unused development site into a beautiful green temporary garden space is another example of how Dublin City Council can work with local communities to enhance the environment in the city centre. I want to thank everyone who has worked in this garden over the past few months and I congratulate them on their achievement.”

Read: What’s being done about historic gravestones at the ‘Cabbage Gardens’ being vandalised?>

Read: Community garden turns derelict Fatima Mansions site green>

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