New Community Allotment at Historic Abbey Site

Posted By The Liberties / 14th December / Liberties Life / 0 Comments

Dublin City Council’s latest community allotment is ready to go! The new site is located off South Earl Street, on what is one of the area’s most historic locations, although you might not know it.

The site is part of the known extent of the Abbey of St Thomas, which is the genesis of The Liberties we know today. An abbey to St Thomas the Martyr (Thomas Becket) was established on the orders of King Henry II of England in 1177 to atone for the murder of the eponymous Archbishop of Canterbury, at the time one of the most powerful churchmen in Europe. King Henry and Thomas has been at loggerheads for a number of years as part of a struggle between Church and State in England. In retribution for the archbishop’s murder, Henry committed to building and endowing a religious house and his cousin William FitzAudelin was dispatched to establish an Augustinian Abbey of St Thomas at Donore outside Dublin in Henry’s new Irish domains.

The Abbey and its surrounding lands were given a range of privileges or ‘liberties’ and hence became known as the Liberty of St Thomas & Donore, the origins of the modern placename. A wealthy powerhouse on the western edge of the city for many years, the Abbey was dissolved in 1540 on the orders of King Henry VIII and the lands given over to William Brabazon, a courtier of the king. His descendent was ennobled as Earl of Meath and hence the connectins of the area to the Earls of Meath and Brabazon family, marked by many of the placenames in the area today (not least South Earl Street and Meath Mart).

Back to the 21st century and the site at South Earl Street was cleared a number of years ago but never developed, largely due to the archaeological significance of the site. A number of plans were advanced, including a recent proposal to develop an archaeology learning centre on the site. However these haven’t progressed and in order to make positive use of the site and add to the network of green spaces in the area, the decision was made to transform the site to a community allotment.

To mark the significance of the site a new gate includes the name ‘St Thomas Abbey’. The community allotment scheme is a low impact development with a protective membrane, hardcore and raised beds used so as not to disturb potential archaeology beneath. You wont be digging for archaeology here. The allotment includes 17 raised bed allotments, all of which have been let and al of which await plants! The space includes rainwater harvesting and a lockup.

Dublin City Council supports a number of high quality community allotments in the area including Weaver Square, Braithwaite Street, Flanagan Fields, and Bridgefoot Street. Demand for allotment spaces is high. For more details on how to register your interest in leasing an allotment email southcentral@dublincity.ie

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