|St. Anne's Park, Raheny|
In 1939 Dublin Corporation bought St Anne's
Estate from Bishop Plunkett. Some 200 acres were developed for Public
Housing, the remaining 290 acres retained as a Public Park. The main
residence was gutted by fire in 1943 and demolished in 1968. The main
avenue of evergreen oaks and pines survives, as do the original stables,
along with some of the ornamental follies that decorated the former
Today the park consists of football pitches, an arboretum, a large formal rose garden, a pitch and putt course and remnants of woodland and gardens from the estate.
Birdlife: The park holds all the common woodland species, including Sparrowhawk, Jay, Treecreeper and Long-tailed Tit. In winter Redwing and Fieldfare can be found. Chiffchaff and Blackcap are in song in spring and summer. Stock Dove also occur, and St. Anne's Park is a good place to observe this retiring and often overlooked species.
The Nanekin River runs through the park, culminating in an ornamental pond before passing under James Larkin Road, and at low tide forming a channel through the southern mudflats of the Bull Island. For the birder the pond is generally a bit of a disappointment, holding nothing more than Mallard and Moorhen; a sun-bathing Terrapin perhaps, providing most interest.
The proximity of St Anne's to the North Bull Island adds another dimension to its birdlife. There is a thriving heronry, Little Egret roosting and possibly breeding alongside the Grey Herons. At high tide and after periods of heavy rain Brent Geese, Black-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers and Curlew are to be found feeding and resting on the football pitches. A fenced-off area of pitches belonging to St Paul's College, (on Sybil Hill Road) being especially favoured by the geese and waders.
When full tide arrives at the North Bull Island and the birds disappear from view into the saltmarshes, the visiting birder would be well rewarded by following the example of the wading birds and make the short journey to St Anne's. An opportunity to add woodland and parkland birds to the day's list, and to get rest and refreshment in the Red Stables Cafe.
© Copyright Ger Franck