Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Tralee Town Park


During the early months of the summer, I went looking for a good walking route. A half hour, at least, of steady walking time and allowing me to get up a good rate of heart activity. I tried a few ways, though estates and along the roadside. They all had drawbacks; damaged footpaths or in some spots nowhere to walk at all, too much traffic or too much doubling back were other problems. So I tried the town park as I had never been inside and knew nothing about it. At 35 acres it is one of the largest urban parks in Ireland and only five minutes from home.

What a space to discover, with its multiple entrances and paths that link the town centre together. You can go in at Denny Street and come out on Dan Spring road or enter at Castle Demesne and end up by the Library. My first day inside and I’m surprised with the size and those connections it makes.  I didn’t know that I could walk from home to the library in under twenty minutes. Nor did I know that my favourite off-licence can be reached by slipping along the side of St John’s church before coming out onto Castle Street. All at once Tralee becomes obvious, the layout of this medieval town makes sense and you see how it works.

Castle Demesne is my way in.

On my walk the Green school is to the right, quickly followed by the Pres and the back of the Gaelcholaiste Chiarrai. Just after the entrance to the Green is an unoccupied house. It is of the bungalow style as you would see in its original form in India. Maybe it dates from the time of the Raj and was built deliberately in this style. My friend Finbarr tells me that the park-keeper used to live there and did so for many years. As the council does not employ a full-time park keeper anymore the house is empty. Now on my wanders I wonder what could be done with this building and how important it is not left to go to ruin. A café? An arts centre? A meeting house? All of these rolled into one with other ideas thrown in?

Maybe if the park is better utilized, so this lovely building would find a function. The council could advertise health walks through the palodge1rk. Leave your car at Siamsa Tire and walk to the banks, the town centre or the library. It would cut down on traffic in town, increase awareness of the park and help improve people’s health. With more people walking through the park, there would be a bigger footfall for that café. Possibly more people would use the park when they know they can drop in for a snack or see work by local artists. The house isn’t too far from the kids’ playground so parents could still keep an eye on the children. The community garden is right beside it, an obvious source of produce for a café. You can’t get more locally produced than a kitchen garden out the side window.

All of this gives people more contact with their town, gives them a sense of ownership of the park and makes us all better citizens in the process. A healthy walk must be preferable to being stuck in traffic and searching for parking. I’m not exactly sure about the current trend for wellness but twenty minutes among the trees, smelling the scent of roses in bloom and breathing fresh air must do wonders for your mental health. A bit of joined up thinking, just like how the park joins-up the town, might make even better use of the great resource that is the Tralee Town park. It wouldn’t take much, the raw materials are all in place and already well developed. Just a little bit of forward thinking may go a long way.


Posted by John Verling

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