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Dublin: 11°C Thursday 15 April 2021

The Poolbeg Chimneys have some very unusual residents

Here’s a glimpse into their life.

Dublin City Scenes The chimneys, pictured here in 2007 when they were still operational. Source: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

DUBLIN’S MOST ICONIC landmark was under threat until very recently.

The Poolbeg Chimneys, located at Ringsend and what would likely be considered an eyesore if constructed today, are loved by Dubliners.

But as most people worried that their destruction would mean the loss of the 40-odd-year-old landmark and a dent in Dublin’s identity, there was one couple who were completely unaware their home was due to be knocked down.

A new short documentary by filmmaker Alan Caulfield offers a glimpse into their life – a pair of peregrine falcons, an endangered bird of prey, and they just successfully bred.

falcon One of the birds atop the chimneys. Source: Screenshot via Al Katraz Films/YouTube

This species has started making its home in urban environments. The smokestacks provide the perfect imitation of the cliff structures were they would usually nest.

They are usually found in more rural settings. Their diet consists mostly of birds, which they hunt using a swoop during which they reach speeds of more than 320km/h.

This makes falcons the fastest animal in the world.

The birds are endangered in Ireland, with just a few hundred breeding pairs on the island.


The two at Poolbeg had two chicks this season, who flew from the nest in the last fortnight.

Caulfield’s documentary explores the significance of the pair’s presence at the chimneys – something not known by many of those living in the city – and also the fight to save disused power plant.

The ESB announced in April that the chimneys will remain standing.

The semi-state will carry out maintenance works that will protect the chimneys while more extensive works, such as painting and sealing the concrete outer shell, will be evaluated in the coming years.

In an essay about the documentary, Caulfield explains that the fight to save them isn’t over yet:

The ESB’s commitments are not legally binding, and Dublin City councillors, led by former lord mayor Dermot Lacey, in whose ward the chimneys stand, have been trying to get council management to put the chimneys on the Register of Protected Structures.
They are awaiting a report from the council’s planning department, which has commissioned architectural historians to do an assessment. That report will recommend whether the 1970s structures are worth adding to the protected list, which councillors would then vote on.

Watch the short documentary in full below:

Source: Al Katraz Films/YouTube

Look: 10 great photos of the Poolbeg chimneys >

Background: The Poolbeg chimneys are staying on the Dublin skyline >

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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