The River Liffey is a priceless asset which has shaped the development of our town, indeed it was the original reason that a town developed on this site.
The River Liffey is probably the town’s prime recreational and environmental asset and “It acts as a green lung flowing through the centre of the town providing opportunities for active recreation along the linear parks and designated walking routes”. #1
The River Liffey and its environs is a high value amenity area, and its network of linear walkways and recreational areas provides opportunities for walking, relaxation, enjoying the natural environment, fishing and other water-based recreational activities The Linear Park is a haven for wildlife, with many species regularly seen from the riverbank including Swans, Herons, Ducks, Otters etc. the river is also rich in salmon, trout and pike.
Kildare County Council have adopted a development plan (Liffey Valley Park Plan – Newbridge (2011) for the Liffey Linear Park, which envisages the creation of a major strategic linear park along both banks of the river Liffey, stretching from Tankardsgarden in the north to just beyond the M7 motorway to the south. This plan is laid out in five phases:
- Tankardstown to Newbridge College – The land adjoining the river is variously zoned for Agricultural, Residential, Open Space, Institutional and Educational;
- Newbridge College to St. Conleth’s Bridge – The south side of the river is made up of a small corner of Woodland at the entrance to Newbridge College, a roadside path runs adjacent to the river to the bridge. The north side of the river is bounded by school sports grounds (Newbridge College and also Patrician Secondary) there is no public access to this side of the river.
- St. Conleth’s Bridge to Kilbelin House – from the bridge, through the park, the “strand”, past “The Gables”, from there access along the river is confined to a narrow track which runs along the edge of the river as afar as Kilbelin House (private land). There is no public access to the northern side of the river.
- Kilbelin House to Walshestown M7 Motorway – this area contains some residential units with the main use of the land being for Agricultural, an 80Mtr setback (open space along the river edge) has been provided for in the event of additional development. There are two areas of archaeological interest – Connell Ford and the ruins of Great Connell Priory.
- M7 Motorway to Athgarvan LAP Boundary – while outside of the extent of both the Newbridge and Athgarvan LAP Boundaries, this links the two towns, with potential to allow access along the river connecting the two towns, the land in this area is agricultural with some ribbon residential development.
In the 1980’s Newbridge Tidy Towns Association undertook to commence maintenance of this area which had fallen into dereliction, and initially this work was undertaken on a voluntary basis, and included cleaning the parkland which was at that time totally overgrown and neglected. Our association is now engaged in the maintenance and upkeep of a section of the Liffey Linear Park stretching from Newbridge College to the “Gables” guesthouse. In recent years the association has been very fortunate in having the services of park attendants employed under the Ballymany Community Employment Scheme (FÁS) and personnel from Kildare County Council’s Gateway Scheme.
The Association now manages the maintenance of an area stretching from the Gables Guest House and Leisure Centre to the woodland at Newbridge College, including upkeep of the Linear Park clearing litter, grassland maintenance (cutting, strimming, edging), tree & shrub planting, flower planting, maintaining park furniture etc.
It is important to stress (and promote) the amenity, ecological and educational value of the River Liffey as it flows through Newbridge, while at the same time ensuring the conservation of its fauna and flora, and protection of the quantity and quality of the water supply. It is also important to preserve and enhance the scenic amenity of the River corridor and the Liffey Linear Park and the quality of the vistas available from designated views.
The Tidy Towns Association recognised that there is a need to expand the footprint of the Liffey Linear Park, and intensify the use and function of the park – and over the years – working closely with KCC’s Parks Superintendent, Councillors & Council Officials – the Liffey Linear Park has been enhanced by the development of walking routes, nature trails, wildlife areas, selected tree planting, addition of park furniture etc.
“Our task must be to free ourselves… ..by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty”. Attributed to Albert Einstein
There has been a determined effort to improve the Liffey Linear Park, and in this regard the Tidy Towns Association maintains contact with those who use the facilities i.e. the walkers, anglers, canoeists, schools etc., and plans are being formulated to further develop fishing facilities, and to cater for various water sports etc. while making provision for habitat creation / maintenance and facilitate / protect biodiversity along the Liffey Linear Park.