Why not come and join us as we continue to bring our beautiful 3 acre Walled Garden within Santry Demesne public park back to life?

The Santry Community Garden was formed in 2010 with the aim to revitalise the Garden and turn it into a wonderful amenity for the whole neighbourhood. From an empty, barren, locked up plot it now has a thriving kitchen garden, Heritage Orchard and ornamental section and is the hub of many community activities. We have a large and diverse membership and have developed links with other volunteer and community groups which include the Conservation Volunteers, Whitehall Beavers, Trees for Cities, OWLS, Dublin Community Growers etc.

Since we started nearly seven years ago with a few vegetables in the back corner, we now have a wonderful kitchen garden teeming with a huge variety of fruit and vegetables and a busy polytunnel. We have planted up the front section of the plot as an ornamental garden, erected a social area/shelter for gardeners and have built a series of raised beds and a wishing well.

In February 2013 we started a project to graft the National Collection of Heritage Variety Apple trees in our beautiful heritage Orchard (featured in the Irish Times) which has been funded through a successful tree sponsorship scheme. Click here for more information about sponsoring a tree.

Summer 2013 saw us welcoming bees to the garden. We built an apiary and have several hives which have produced some wonderful honey - made sweeter and more complex by the huge variety of plants and flowers the bees can visit within the walls of the garden. Our main project for 2016 is complementary to the bees - a wildlife area which we hope will be an educational and inspirational area for members and visitors encouraging biodiversity and teaching people about the benefits and value of a 'wild spot' in all our gardens.

With over 100 members who work on an entirely voluntary basis with limited ad-hoc funds our garden must surely be one of the largest and most successful community gardens in Dublin (if not Ireland). We welcome new members and visitors so come and visit us to see People Power in action or click here to become a member.

The History of Santry Court

Where the Santry Demesne public park is situated was once a palatial old house and gardens, built in 1703 on the site of an earlier medieval residence. This was once the largest house in North County Dublin and people traveled from far and wide to be received by the owners, the Barry family. Many clues to the house still exist and visitors can find the house foundations, front steps, tree avenue and of course the walled garden within the grounds of the park.

A small bend in the Santry River (which forms the boundary of the park today) was widened to create a small pond for the boating pleasure of Georgian ladies and gentlemen who resided at, and visited, the house.

It is thought that a network of water pipes ran throughout the park for a series of water features. However although water was plentiful there was not enough to keep these features running simultaneously. So as the residents and their guests walked around the gardens workers would be dispatched to switch the water on at particular features as they approached and switch it off once they had passed by.
The house fell into disrepair at the turn of the 20th century as the estate proved not to be economically viable. The Domville family departed Ireland post-independence in 1921 and the house came into the possession of the state in the 1930’s who intended to repair it and use it as a mental asylum. This plan was shelved by the start of World War II; the need to increase security around Dublin Airport meant it was used as an army depot, and part of the gardens as a firing range. There are many theories locally about what happened next, but in 1947 a fire severely damaged the house which was then left derelict and finally demolished in 1959.

Santry Demesne in the 21st Century

Very little remains to be seen of the former grandeurs and the area which was known locally as ‘Santry Woods’ due to the great number of beautiful old trees on the site, became neglected and un-used. However around the end of the 1990’s work began on the Northwood development despite much opposition from local people and environmentalists who were concerned by plans to clear the ancient woodlands to make way for the new development (which comprises hotels, restaurants, residential apartments, office and retail buildings).

After much debate and negotiation part of the land attached to Santry Court was retained by Fingal County Council and Santry Demesne is now a much loved public park that contains a children’s play area, a man-made lake, and the Morton Athletics Stadium.

The skeleton of what was the Walled Garden was also still in situ. This garden would have been extensively cultivated and used by the main house as a source of fruit and vegetables for the estate family and their workers. Builders who developed the nearby Northwood site in liaison with FCC repaired the walls a couple of years ago and the site is now completely secure.  The basic layout of the garden was restored with gravel paths threading through the original flower and vegetables beds.

Due to lack of funding and resources, this beautiful and historic 3 acre site was until early 2010 grassed over and closed to the public. In March 2010 whilst planting trees in the park (kindly donated by IKEA) local residents and FCC agreed that if enough local interest could be raised, the Walled Garden might be developed as Community Garden.

The Community Garden has been up and running for over 6 years and in that time we have transformed the  Garden, and are well on the way to restoring it to it’s former glory. With the help and cooperation of Fingal County Council who have funded vital infrastructure (eg: irrigation and power) and the hard work of local people who have volunteered their time and gardening expertise we now have a thriving Kitchen Garden and Heritage Orchard. The front section is currently being developed as a Recreational Garden which we hope to open to the public on a more regular basis.

Looking around the Kitchen Garden you can see the remains of the Head Gardener’s cottage (beside the Shed) and on the North Wall of the Orchard the foundations of what was a Vinery and a billiard room.  We also have plans of the Orchard from the 1870’s and we have used this as the basis for planning and planting the current Heritage Orchard.

The Walled Garden has survived for hundreds of years and we are here to ensure it’s still going strong for future generations.  From serving the select few, to being completely locked up and barren it is now a busy, thriving amenity for everyone in the local community.