Thursday, 8 April 2021

A walk through woodlands in
Tymon Park with its sculpture
and the ruins of Tymon Castle

‘Cliabhan’ (‘Cradle’) by the sculptor Linda Brunker in Tymon Park (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

I have been in Dublin this week for a consultation with my GP about my sarcoidosis and one of my regular injections for my Vitamin B12 deficiency.

I have stayed within a 5 km radius of the house in Knocklyon, and within my ‘family bubble.’ But after yesterday’s consultation I went for a walk in Tymon Park, a large suburban public park in South Dublin, between Tallaght, Templeogue and Walkinstown.

Tymon Park opened in June 1986 and is the second largest park in Dublin, after the Phoenix Park. It has an area of over 120 ha (300 acres) and is divided in two by the M50 motorway, with the two parts linked by a pair of pedestrian bridges.

Tymon Park Forest is designed to produce a rich and diverse woodland landscape for 125 different species, including beech, poplar, ash, horse chestnut, willow, maples, sycamore and birch, with alder, hazel, and hawthorn near the edges.

Tymon Park Forest is designed to produce a rich and diverse woodland landscape (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The park has a number of way-marked woodland trails, 29 sports pitches, and children’s playground close to the Greenhills Road entrance, beside Castletymon Road, beside the Willington Lane car park and at the Limekiln Road car park.

The River Poddle flows through the park, filling two bigger lakes and several inter-connecting smaller ponds and water features. The water features provide a valuable habitat for up to 92 species of flora and fauna, and a breeding ground for the popular waterfowl.

The PACT Woodland Project in Tymon Park (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The PACT Woodland Project in an attractively planted area by a lakeside is an innovative project by PACT in collaboration with South Dublin County Council. PACT is an adoption agency providing Irish families with a broad range of services in the areas of adoption, information and tracing and unplanned pregnancy. The project commemorated the 50th anniversary of PACT’s foundation in 1952 and 50 years of legal adoption in Ireland.

Part of this project is Cliabhan (the Irish for ‘Cradle’) by the sculptor Linda Brunker and unveiled on 9 September 2006. The sculpture, 1 metre wide and 2 metres high, consists of large bronze leaves in the form of an arm that extends from the ground up into three hands. These hands cradle a golden bronze baby in a nest of leaves. Linda Brunker designed the sculpture to symbolise the three-pronged nurturing aspect of the work of PACT.

Linda Brunker was born in Dublin in 1966 and graduated from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, with a Diploma in Sculpture (1987) and a degree in fine art (1988). She has developed her own innovative style of bronze casting. She had solo shows in Dublin, New York and Los Angeles and has completed private and public commissions worldwide. She now lives in Toulouse in France.

Her other public works include ‘Voyager’ (2004) at Laytown Strand, commissioned by Meath County Council; ‘The Healing Tree’ (2002), Virginia, Co Cavan; ‘The Wishing Hand’ (2001), Department of Education, Marlborough Square, Dublin; and ‘The Children of Lir’ (1993) overlooking Lough Owel, outside Mullingar, commissioned by Westmeath County Council.

The site of Tymon Castle (left) on Tymon Lane (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The area in Tymon Park was also the home of Tymon Castle, which once stood on a high ridge by Tymon Lane. The castle was once a local landmark, and Tymon Lane was an important link between rural areas and the centre of Dublin as a route on high ground through marshlands.

The castle was built some time between the 12th and 15th centuries, when many castles were built as defensive outposts along the edge of the Pale.

Although Tymon Castle was quite small, it stood on high ground that allowed its defenders to see for miles across the surrounding countryside. This high position and the surrounding marshy land ensured it was not an easy building to attack. A small projecting gallery over the entrance added to its defences.

However, the castle had deteriorated by the early 16th century and was in a ruinous state by 1547. It was partially repaired in 1779, but was only partially occupied.

During the 1798 rebellion, the body of an Irish rebel was left at the castle by a group of rebels after they were attacked by soldiers near Old Bawn. His body was later found by soldiers who hung it from a castle window where it was left to decay.

Children at Saint Mary’s School, Tallaght, described the ruins of the castle in the 1930s, saying ‘These ruins are on a great height and serve as a landmark for miles around.’ The ruins were a popular location for picnics, despite the dangerous state of the castle.

In his account of Tymon Castle in 1899, William Domville Handcock said it was almost in complete ruin, and recalled how the stones from the castle had been reused in other buildings. He added, ‘Probably in a few years more it will all be level with the ground.’

Tymon Castle was finally levelled in 1960 because of its dangerous condition.

‘Cliabhan’ (‘Cradle’) by the sculptor Linda Brunker in Tymon Park (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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