Located in Dublin 13 in the developing residential areas of Clongriffin and Balgriffin, is Ireland’s first wholly sustainable park. Father Collins Park was opened in May 2009, and has been hosting a parkrun there since October 2015.
Event Director Alan Foley explains more:
Dublin City Council were keen to start a parkrun in Father Collins Park and contacted Matt Shields, the Country Manager for parkrun in Ireland. I answered a notice that was posted in the local community centre, The Hub, asking for volunteers and at the first meeting. As a member of the local running club Raheny Shamrock, I had run the nearby Malahide and St Anne’s parkruns on several occasions so I was familiar with parkrun.
Once we got the necessary permission from Dublin City Council and put a route in place, we then set about looking for a core team of volunteers to help make it all happen. Thankfully, we are lucky that we have had a good crew of volunteers since day one and our core team has grown since we started off. On the rare week that we are short of volunteers, once we put a call out for help, we quickly have a full roster for Saturday morning.
As most new events know, the first six months were tough going as it seemed like every Saturday had awful weather. There were times when we wondered if we would survive to see a warm, dry day but we got through the winter. For any parkrun starting out, I would say to them not to give up as you learn so much over the first few months. If we can survive Storm Desmond blowing our finishing area into the lake (no volunteers got wet though!) and still process the results, then you can get through most things and flourish over time. We are also lucky that we can have a secondary course to fall back on in case of frost or ice and have often used this in the past.
We are grateful that we have received great help from Dublin City Council and from local businesses, especially Gannon Homes, who are constructing a lot of the new houses and apartments in the area. Our community at parkrun has grown as more and more people move into the area and our average numbers are around 70 parkrunners each week.
We have several parkruns near us in our area so each week we have a mix of regulars and tourists. With Dublin Airport just up the road, we’ve often paid host to parkrunners who are just off the plane with their suitcases in tow.
Our course is essentially two big laps and two small laps of the park with a spur for the start and finish sections. Our briefings each week contain such phrases as ‘turn right at the skate park’ and ‘go around the waterfall with no water’ with the odd inclusion for ‘mind the swans as they are resting on the course’! But the swans are used to us and have been very good to us every Saturday morning and always move off the route before 9.30 so everyone, both animals and humans, work together to make the event a success.
If you are ever coming to visit us, you’ll know you’re on the right road to Father Collins when you see the windmills in the distance. We also have two playgrounds within the park so if you’re coming to parkrun you can also get the kids to burn off some energy after you’ve finished.
The park, which consists of 26 hectares, lies on the route of the Number 15 bus from the city centre. It is also easy to reach by train or dart to Clongriffin station, which is a gentle warm up down to the park.
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