The second phase of work to reinvent the linear park at St James Walk has been opened. The area between Fatima Luas stop and Basin Lane has been transformed into a large play and exercise area as part of the ongoing delivery of a masterplan for the parkland, which runs for approximately 2km alongside the Luas line between Fatima and Suir Bridge.
The redesign of the park has been spearheaded by Dublin City Council Parks, Biodiversity & Landscape Services, assisted by landscape designers Áit Urbanism + Landscape. The phase II works were undertaken by contractor Redlough Landscapes.
This section of the parkland, which is formed by the bend of the Luas line as it runs into the St. James’s Hospital Campus, was previously the site of a small basin along the original alignment of the Grand Canal. Built in stages through the 1770s, and finally opening fully to traffic in 1780, the Grand Canal originally ran into the city to a small terminating berth at this spot, and later, via a narrow channel called ‘The Gut’, to a harbour close to St James’s Gate Brewery. In 1796, a new “Circle Line” through the city from Portobello to Ringsend, and the city’s docks was opened. The original alignment continued in use until 1960 when the last Guinness barges were finally decommissioned. The canal was later filled in and in 2004 the alignment was repurposed for the Luas Red Line.
The work to develop the new parkland saw excavation of a natural dip in the landscape and uncovered some beautiful runs of granite, part of the original canal basin. While it was expected to find elements of the canal, the quality of the stonework and the extent proved a surprise. The finds required some tweaking of the original design concept to incorporate this stonework into a new mini-amphitheatre. Three terraces create a sunny southfacing area to sit and a place for performances or meet-ups.
Active play and exercise also feature in the new amenity with lots of play equipment interspersed around the park. A new community growspace has also been created. The edimental – edible – garden has been active on site since early 2023 and is now well-established. The raised beds are filled with plants that can be harvested and eaten.
Other features of the park include a new entrance at Basin Lane, artwork, paths, seats and a picnic area. Trees have been planted and many of the existing trees on the space have been trimmed to create an open and inviting space. The parkland will also be complemented by the new Thomas Street to Suir Road cycleway which is now under development and which will remove much of the parking that daily lines St James’s Walk creating a much more pleasant environment for walking and cycling.
With a substantial section of the park now completed, attention shifts to the Rialto end. Work has begun to create a new pedestrian space at the south entrance to the new Children’s Hospital. A plaza will connect the hospital entrance to Rialto Luas stop and the route to SCR and Rialto Bridge will be refurbished with new surfaces and landscaping. As the huge compound for the hospital contractor BAM is gradually dissembled, the area between Rialto and Fatima Luas stops will be returned to use as parkland and redesigned in line with the park masterplan.
By the end of next year, the full area between Basin Lane and Rialto Bridge will be completely transformed with recreational spaces, play areas, a café, greater permeability to Ireland’s largest hospital campus and improved walking and cycling infrastructure.
Phase II works at St James’s Walk Linear Park was officially unveiled by Lord Mayor of Dublin Dáithí de Róiste on Monday 11th September 2023. Read more about the masterplan for St James’s Linear Park here.