One year on from a ceremony which celebrated the reclamation of a small green area and church ruins in Artane, another ceremony was recently held to unveil the official name of the now recognised park.
Now called St Nicholas’ Park – after the name of church ruins which is located on the land – the park was cleared out and restored over the Covid-19 pandemic by local resident and historian Tom O’Farrell.
“The whole place was overgrown with shrubbery and weeds,” O’Farrell told Northside People before the unveiling ceremony last year.
“There were mountains of it.”
Due to O’Farrell’s curious mind and historical interest, he began clearing out the park by himself, loading bags full of brambles, bracken, and briars.
“It was really in a state of neglect,” he says.
“I also found a number of syringes and knives.
“I know some people were afraid to walk through it at nigh time due to the state it was in,” he says.
After a while of working through the shrubbery by himself, three other local men began helping him, even filling trucks up with the overgrowth.
“We rented this truck that could take 25 tonnes of load,” says O’Farrell.
“And we filled it up to the brim.”
The church itself was probably built in the 13th century but the exact year is hard to nail down, O’Farrell says.
“The date for the foundation of the church is unknown however a reference between 1181 and 1212 related to monies being paid to the mother church in Finglas is documented.”
O’Farrell says the church has considerable ties to Artane Castle, which was built in the mid-14th century and pulled down in 1825.
Originally owned and developed by the fabled Hollywood family, the castle was the home to descendants of the family for decades and was used as a place of refuge for persecuted Catholics during the time of the Penal Laws.
“There is a tombstone inside the church with the Hollywood family name on it,” says O’Farrell.
“It cannot be viewed in isolation from Artane Castle and the Hollywood family.”
It took Tom and his helpers roughly 18 months to finish the task and turn the park and church ruins into a place where local residents can enjoy once again.
It has also taken a further year for the park to receive an officially recognised name.
However, now under the watchful eye of local volunteers and Dublin City Council, the local Artane community is hopeful that St Nicholas’ Park can remain a valuable amenity for decades to come.