Green light for €23 million white water rafting course for Dublin

Concern expressed facility will be used by ‘stags and hens’

Plans for an international standard white-water rapids rafting circuit and polo pool at George’s Dock have been approved by Dublin city councillors despite the project almost doubling in cost from €12 million to €23 million.

City councillors were shown plans last January to convert the early 19th-century dock into a mechanically-propelled rafting facility with a water polo pitch and an emergency service training centre. The 100m by 70m basin is located between the IFSC and the CHQ building next to the river Liffey.

At that point the cost was estimated at €12 million. The council said the original cost had been preliminary and had not included design fees or VAT. The project now also involves the construction of two new buildings, a water treatment facility and flood defences.

Figures presented to the council on Monday night showed just under €5 million would come from development levies and €4 million would come from the council’s capital reserves. The largest tranche of funding, €13 million is expected to come from grants, largely from central Government. Just under €1 million has already been spent.


The council hopes the facility will be used for “elite kayak slalom squad training”; for national and international white-water kayaking events; for canoe polo and water polo matches; as well as for tourist and recreational rafting.

However, it would also be used by the fire brigade and other emergency services and local authority staff for rescue training to deal with fast moving waters, including floods.


Assistant chief fire officer Greg O’Dwyer told councillors the project would transform fire brigade training.

“We rescue approximately 100 people a year from water, which far exceeds what we do from fires . . . therefore we have to train for it.”

The fire brigade’s current training facilities in the upper Liffey area were inadequate and unsafe, he said. Staff had become ill because of the poor quality of the water and in some cases had to be rescued while they were training to rescue others.

“The big advantage is the quality of water is guaranteed and we will always have the amount of water we need when we need it. The added bonus is that we can control it.”

Other rescue services around the country had expressed an interest in using the facility, as had the Garda he said.

Several councillors raised concerns about the cost to use the facility and how available it would be to the local community.

"Will it be booked out by stags and hens?" Green Party councillor Caroline Conroy said.

Independent councillor Pat Dunne asked if the council will pay rates to Irish Water for the facility. Councillors also queried whether it would be privatised in the future.

The manager of the council's dockland's office Derek Kelly said: "The intention from day one was this would be a Dublin City Council owned, managed and run facility. We have no intention of putting it out to the private market."

He added that the “rafting element” would subsidise a community use of the facility. He was happy the €22.8 million figure was now “robust”, but he said “unfortunately the council will have to pay Irish Water”.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times