Dalymount Park was bought from Bohemian Football Club by Dublin City Council in 2015, ensuring its future as an amenity for the local community and the wider city. The stadium will be developed by the Council as a municipal sports stadium expanding its reach beyond football while being retained as the home ground of Bohemian FC. It is currently scheduled to be demolished at the end of 2023 and a new 6,000 seater stadium built in its stead. This will include 1,000msq of community space. It is great news for the local area, the city and for Bohemians.
The idea to make this map originated with Dalymount – Mapping a Unique Architectural Space, a project run collaboratively by myself and urban researcher Dr. Jackie Bourke in 2017. We were both attracted by this anomalous space, hidden behind terraced housing and a 60’s shopping centre, and impressed with the emotional attachment to place it engenders. The title of the map and of this publication This is Our Place is taken from an interview undertaken as part of this research.
This idea to create a map lay fallow for over a year. Some of the hesitation came from uncertainty around the value of creating a hand drawn map in a digital age. Can drawing explore and communicate ideas or aspects of a place in a way that is different from or not possible through other media? Can drawing draw attention to and ask other questions? I was also concerned that I was portraying an increasingly physically delapidated stadium. The map would not mark its glory years; the exhilaration, the crowds, the attendances of up to 46,700, but would mark a stage in its decline.
The drive to go ahead lay in my fascination with the palimpsest of collective effort evident in the structures and materials that constitute it’s built form and also, importantly, in a conviction that Dalymount Park is an important place. Drawing this map of Dalymount is my way of saying ‘this place matters’ and a means of exploring its significance. Dalymount is not only the ‘home of Irish football’ and of Bohemian FC, but it is also an increasingly inclusive place around which, for the last 120 years a sense of community, shared identity and values have formed.
I wanted the map to record the physical space; the structures, ephemera, idiosyncrasies but I also wanted it to communicate the values of the club and that attachment it engenders. These intangibles are most publicly visibly expressed in the graffiti and murals. Care was taken to record the names by which things are known; for example, Cabra End, School End, Shed End, St Peter’s Road End have all referred to the same end of the grounds at different times. Many functions essential to the running of the club take place in sometimes run down and often anonymous structures. I was conscious of recording all of this as these places have and have had importance in the lives of many, many people.
In 2007 Dalymount Park was nearly sold and it almost became a major development site for apartments, hotel and retail. The deal fell through due to the 2008 financial crash and Dalymount remained in the club’s hands.Something unique and valuable was nearly lost.
Dalymount Park is a key part of our social and cultural infrastructure which allows us to be citizens rather than consumers and to live connected lives in our own communities. This infrastructure needs to be recognised, valued and supported for its essential role in the functioning of our neighbourhoods and cities. Dalymount is a space where culture has been lived for 120 years, a place of significance that challenges many current prevalent development norms and speaks of other value systems and temporalities that are particularly relevant at this time when the rethinking of neighbourhoods and cities is critical.
This publication is a companion piece to the map This is Our Place, A Survey of Dalymount Park the Home of Irish Football. Both complement each other but can also be appreciated independently. The drawings from the map are reproduced in this volume along with two newly commissioned essays and an inventory of the built history of the grounds.
Dr. Margarita Cappock in Mapping Dalymount enquires into the ability of drawing and mapping to convey beyond a perceived objective reality into ‘intimacy, soul and character’. Prof. Gerry Kearns asks ‘How do we make ourselves at home in the city?’. That is the question that this map is asking; what ‘allow(s) communities to be made in cities’. I am indebted to both for their interest and commitment to this project and to their scholarly explorations that contextualise this work in the wider spheres of art, drawing, placemaking and identity.
I am also indebted to Stephen Burke who draws on his in-depth knowledge of Dalymount and charts the progress of the of the material fabric of the stadium in Building Dalymount Park 1901 – 2021.
It has been a pleasure and an education spending time in Dalymount Park; getting to know the intricacies of its built and much amended fabric, learning about and appreciating the stewardship of Bohemian FC over the course of 120 years, meeting some of the many people involved in the complex society that is Bohemian FC. My ideas on what football is and what it represents have been challenged and expanded as has my understanding of the importance of places that bring people together, create a sense of ownership, meaning and belonging in a city.