Dodder greenway may require purchase of some golf course land, Milltown meeting told

Eamon Ryan outlines stretch routed through property owned by Milltown Golf Club that would help link Grand Canal docks to the Bohernabreena reservoirs

A proposal to enable the long-awaited development of a cycling and walking “greenway” along the river Dodder on Dublin’s southside to be completed within the next two years has been outlined by Minister for Environment and Transport Eamon Ryan.

Addressing a public meeting in Milltown on Tuesday night, Mr Ryan outlined how significant but easily implementable changes to traffic flows in Clonskeagh and Donnybrook, and routing the greenway through property owned by Milltown Golf Club, could enable a stretch from Donnybrook to Dartry Park to be completed.

This would entail making traffic flow one-way on Beaver Row (travelling east), and to run the greenway from Patrick Doyle Road in Dartry along a right of way owned by the golf club and then skirting its practice ground before crossing an existing but disused bridge onto Dartry Park.

The 24km riverside route, from the Grand Canal docks to the Bohernabreena reservoirs at Glenasmole in the Dublin mountains, has seen cyclists and walkers at loggerheads since it was first proposed more than 10 years ago.


Dublin City Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council are refocusing their resources on the river Dodder greenway to work on quicker-build “interim” sections of the project, which was originally costed at €22 million – South Dublin County Council has largely completed the stretch running from Rathfarnham to Tallaght.

Mr Ryan underlined that an interim approach would enable those affected determine if it worked for them. “This would deliver a spectacular route from Tallaght to Ringsend, that is not hugely expensive to resolve but is a sensitive approach,” he added.

While there would be a mixing of pedestrians and cyclists, Mr Ryan said he favoured keeping pedestrians to the northside of the river and cyclists to the southern side – where possible.

Mr Ryan said a compulsory purchase order of the golf club land was possible and was likely to succeed in his view, but he favoured the local authority taking this section of the greenway in charge and managing it. He urged the club to try this option for three years which would involve a pathway 3-4m wide running along the perimeter of the practice area, which could continue to operate.

“Milltown Golf Club doesn’t lose ownership. I think members will support it,” he added.

He confirmed that the club had employed consultants to examine options who had concluded the route was unsuitable and had suggested alternatives.

The traffic flow changes and routing through Dartry had broad political support, he said. Design options are due to be published by DCC in September when public consultation would begin.

Public consultation on the route conducted by engineering firm RPS in 2018 found while there was broad support for the greenway, there were concerns about potential “conflicts” if cyclists and pedestrians were not physically separated.

Concerns were also expressed about the impact on existing wildlife, ecology and heritage along the river; the use of Miltown Golf Club; that boardwalks and bridges would be visually obtrusive and that it would attract antisocial behaviour.

Mr Ryan told the meeting attended by 60 people that DCC was proposing as an option routing the greenway up a steep hill on Milltown Road, before taking a sharp turn and downward descent into Dartry Park, but this was not acceptable as a permanent solution on access grounds as greenways should not be arduous in terms of incline, he believed.

At the beginning of the greenway, segregation has been introduced at Thorncastle Street. Boardwalks are to be included on either side of Ringsend Bridge while boardwalks are to be upgraded in the Ballsbridge area. Segregation will also be introduced on both sides of Eglinton Road; a new pedestrian and cycling bridge will be constructed between Ashton’s pub and the weir downstream of riverside walk and additional segregation will be introduced on Dodder Road Lower.

Labour councillor Dermot Lacey, a member of the Dodder Steering Committee, said the greenway route as proposed was not “a cycle highway”. It would allow people cycle and walk in relative safety. “This can move quickly, and it will be a wonderful addition to the area.”

A draft plan for the traffic flows changes in Clonskeagh and Donnybrook had been agreed with allowances made for access on Beaver Row, and would go out to public consultation soon, he added.

Green Party councillor Hazel Chu said the local authority was supportive of cycling infrastructure coming into the city but active travel projects were taking a long time. While she was fully behind the Dodder greenway, getting public feedback was critical because if a project was “confrontational, it doesn’t move forward”.

Mr Ryan responded the project was deliverable within two years but accepted it required “a political push and co-ordination – and public support”.

The route and measures he was proposing would retain the special character of the river and improve access, especially for young people going to school, and ultimately reduce road traffic in the area.

In response to a local resident, he confirmed that separate flood relief works were proposed for the area. Initial plans for this were over-engineered and “not necessary on this stretch of the river”, he said.

Mark McAndrew of Dodder Anglers’ Club – which has 1,100 members – broadly favoured the route but underlined the need to protect the Dodder ecosystem by retaining green buffer areas including trees overhanging the river to keep it cool while maximising biodiversity and the health of fish populations including trout and salmon.

This article was amended on May 18th as the original version incorrectly stated a change to traffic flow on Eglinton Road was proposed, making it one-way.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times