St. Catherine’s Park, Lucan, on the banks of the River Liffey
This is a stunning and beautifully kept Park, ideal for walking, cycling and with a host of other facilities as well. The Park straddles both Dublin and Kildare and can be accessed from Leixlip, from Lucan village opposite McDonald’s, and from the Lucan to Clonee Road, near the new Rokeby estate.
The Park is extensive, with several pleasant paths, a bridge across the river, parking at both ends of the park and an extensive array of trees, shrubs and wildlife.
There is a Fairy Demesne with several fairies taking up residence in the old trees. They have their own walks, mushroom stools, and swings.
At the top of the park there is a children’s playground, and also a secure field for letting dogs run loose. There are football pitches, and a cricket ground, and the River is used for canoeing, with the famous Liffey Descent running through this area.
The entire park is beautifully kept with proper footpaths and signage. The paths are linked so that you can walk or jog in loops. Some of the paths run alongside the River and there are flat and hilly sections too. There are some old buildings on the site, all derelict and out of bounds. I haven’t looked up the history of the Park, and the buildings could be stunning – but to be fair I think they are falling down and probably beyond repair.
In Lucan, the River passes close to the main road above the village, and then through the Strawberry Beds on its way towards the city.
Some of the Liffey is navigable and Alexandra has been on this section. Coming from the Shannon across the country on the Grand Canal, Alexandra went through Ringsend Basin onto the River Liffey. We had to stick our nose into Alexandra Basin (we were like excited children), and then went upriver past the car ferries, the EastLink Bridge, O’Connell Bridge, Ha’penny Bridge, past the Guinness Brewery, Heuston Station up as far as the weir just above Islandbridge. We then waited until the levels were low enough to get back under the bridges, but high enough to float. Tidal water is scary when you are not used to it, and there is a serious current on this River when the tide is going out.
The River Liffey flows out to sea through Dublin, and most of us have seen it driving from Heuston Station, passed the Guinness Brewery, the Ha’penny and O’Connell Street Bridges towards Ringsend. But before The River Liffey gets to the capital city, it meanders through stunning countryside in Counties Wicklow and Kildare.
It is not a river we associate with boating as most of the river is shallow, and subject to a very fast current, and tidal below Chapelizod. But this is not a forgotten or unused river. It has a wide array of attractions and runs through heavily populated areas even before it gets to Dublin. So its future as an amenity is surely secure.