The main gates are tall and elegant, but you prefer this entrance: a small black door set into the perimeter wall.
You remember how intrigued you were the first time you came upon it. You ran your hand over the panelled surface (iron!), took in the granite architrave.
You liked the door’s thickness, its sturdy honesty. You wondered how old it was, how many people had touched it before you.
Stepping through it was like stepping into a secret.
The surprise of water, once destined for city homes and distilleries, content now to mirror sky, shelter swans.
(Thinking about it afterwards, you realised you must have known about the basin all along, read about it in history books. But you hadn’t been looking for it that day, hadn’t realised there was a second entrance.)
You visit regularly now, this disused basin turned city park. You walk alongside the railings, stop to watch the gulls and ducks. On good days, you spot the heron.
The city’s skyline hovers above the walls: houses, offices, St Peter’s Church. You feel cocooned here, held in the respite of unexpected quiet. Your breathing slows.
Once, there were elaborate plans to upgrade the park, add performance spaces, art installations. The plans were opposed by community groups.
You’re glad of their foresight. The park is elegant in its simplicity: water, path, trees.
Flowers surround the keeper’s cottage, care and attention apparent in their blooming.
You’re grateful for such care.
Blessington Street Basin was opened in 1810 to provide clean water to residents of Dublin’s north inner city. By 1869, the basin had been superseded by the Vartry Reservoir system. However, it continued to provide water to the nearby Jameson’s and Power’s distilleries. When the distilleries moved to Cork in the mid-1970s, the basin fell into disrepair. It was restored in 1993 (following a heated debate about the nature of the restoration) and re-opened as a park in 1994.
The basin was originally named the Royal George Reservoir (after King George III). Most Dubliners simply refer to it as the Basin.
The sculptures along the north wall are by Austin McQuinn.