Ranelagh says no: foiled Metro plan spreads cheer in Dublin 6
Businessman’s joy that Metro will not come south echoed up and down Dunville Avenue
“Cutting Ranelagh in half was just abhorrent to all the people who live here,” says Michael O’Donovan, owner of Mima Coffee Company at the Beechfield Luas stop. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Peering out from the long glass windows of his Mima cafe at the Beechwood Luas stop, there is perhaps nobody better placed to understand the value of Dunville Avenue than Michael O’Donovan.
The tiny roadway that crosses the tramline is at one point barely wide enough to fit a single car but it is the starting point for a local campaign that has, in part, led to the collapse of a multimillion-euro rail corridor.
“I suppose massive relief is the key thing but there has been very good community effort put in around here in recent months,” beams Mr O’Donovan, kitted out in his grey apron as he holds the door open for regular customers.
At one point Dunville Avenue stood to be closed to accommodate a seamless high-speed rail corridor that would replace the existing Luas Green Line right outside his cafe. It whipped these residents into a force of opposition.
“It was really because the idea of cutting Ranelagh in half was just abhorrent to all the people who live here,” Mr O’Donovan says, looking out over the track.
“It’s more than just cars [that use the thoroughfare]. Look, it’s old ladies now, there are kids constantly going across – it’s a massively walked area.”
Mr O’Donovan has been running Mima for five years, but it would have been demolished to make way for a footbridge, “which would have been bad for business”, he says with a smile.
This cheerfulness is echoed up and down the Dublin 6 street.
Outside Morton’s Food Market, a woman – who wishes to remain anonymous – is visibly delighted at the news. She explains how her garden runs along a portion of the line and how two neighbouring homes stood to be knocked down for the new track.
She knows the sounds of every morning Luas intimately, she says – “all shapes and sizes, and I have known them all for the last 10 years”. There is no appetite to upgrade it, whatever the capacity issues.
“It has been wonderful. If you ask anyone in the neighbourhood, it has been the best thing that has happened,” says Anna Farmar, walking toward the shops as she has done at least once a day since moving here in 1977.
John Murnaghan also fits this familiar local pattern, walking his dog over the tramlines, incredulous at the prospect of a steep footbridge punctuating the gentle stroll.
“You have to walk in people’s shoes,” he says, convinced those who come up with the plans do so from distant office buildings. Why complicate things? It seems a familiar frame of mind in this corner of south Dublin.
“Heed the words of the greatest thinker of the 20th century, Albert Einstein, ” Murnaghan says, walking away towards Beechwood Road. “ ‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”