Darndale Park in North Dublin was always known to locals as the “field”. It was unusable for a long time due to rubbish dumping, burned out cars, motorbikes and horses, and was never treated as an actual park.
Then a few years ago, a park renewal group made up entirely of local volunteers began working with Dublin City Council to set about reclaiming the park and turning it into a green space that people would use. Darndale parkrun is one of their legacies, as Event Director Susan French explains.
Darndale parkrun started in September 2018 after a small voluntary community group got chatting after a meeting about how to get people using our park again. One of the group members initially suggested a walking group, but then a week later she emailed parkrun with the idea of getting an event up and running in the park.
After meeting with parkrun Ireland Country Manager Matt Shields and getting all the necessaries agreed, we held our first event with 60 people taking part.
I love our event as being a local myself, I really did not think that our “field” would ever hold a parkrun! It’s great to have people from all over coming to our parkrun.
Our course is three laps of the park with one or two cheeky hills! Our most famous landmark is our pond in the centre of the park. You have to walk/run around the pond area, and a lot of people comment on it, which is great to hear. The pond is home to a lot of different fish, ducks and we also have swans. A few times during parkrun we have had horses in the park too. Some parkrunners find it funny to have a lovely pond on one side and a horse on the other!
After parkrun we go to Kay’s Kitchen in the Tesco shopping centre at Clare Hall, a five minute drive or 10 minute walk from the park. We are currently trying to arrange to go to the local sports hall in Darndale for our post-parkrun catch up.
We have had some great stories coming out of our event, even though we are still relatively new. There is a woman who has lost eight stone in the past few years and she never liked exercise at all; some days she couldn’t walk for more than 10 minutes as she suffered with really bad pains in her legs and knees. When she started losing weight she got back into exercise bit by bit and when Darndale parkrun started she registered and came along. She completed her first parkrun in one hour and has become a regular since.
We also have a volunteer, John Lyons, who has been on our board since we started our Playground Renewal Project five years ago. John is a very big part of our volunteer/core team, has completed the Dublin City Marathon and is great at cheering parkrunners on. He knows how it feels to finish the walk/run. He really gets stuck in and is here every Saturday morning.
Our core team is small but really great. We all do our best and help each other out. Darndale parkrun would not be a great success without Madeleine, John, Jason, Noel, Mick, David and Stephen.
Darndale parkrun has had a significant impact on Darndale and the surrounding areas and we have people using the park during the week as well as on Saturdays. Most of the community would not have used the park before last year because they would have seen it as a no go area. Now, they use it regularly. We have locals coming along on Saturday mornings who are very happy that they get a chance to take part in a parkrun on their doorstep.
Darndale parkrun is only a few months old and we would love to get more people involved, so come and along and see how we turned the local “field” into a beautiful park!
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