O’Gara’s Dartmouth Square returned to public

Athlone businessman Noel O’Gara could have some rather high profile opposition on his hands if he decides to go ahead with plans to turn Dublin’s Dartmouth Square into a car park in the future.

The stars lined out yesterday evening for the reopening of Dartmouth Square in Ranelagh, which has been owned by Mr O’Gara, from Ballinahown, since 2005.

Musicians David Kitt, Damien Rice, Mundy and Gavin Friday, actor Stephen Rea, and fashion designer John Rocha were among the famous faces who joined delighted residents as the park was reopened to the local community.

The move follows an agreement between local resident Peter O’Brien and Mr O’Gara that the park is to be made available to the public until the end of the year to host various activities, including barbeques, concerts, and children’s activities. Residents have spent recent weeks working to restore the square to its former glory after it fell into neglect.

Singer/songwriter David Kitt told the Advertiser that he was happy to lend his support to the campaign by local residents to return the square to the community.

“Peter O’Brien has done a lot of work to clean up the square. So much of Dublin has been taken away from the people, old buildings have been pulled down, and areas rezoned for apartments and car parks. “Hopefully the rumours that the park is eventually to be turned into a car park don’t play out, that would be a great travesty,” he said.

Dartmouth Square has been the subject of a bitter stand-off between Mr O’Gara and Dublin City Council since 2005, when he bought the square for around €10,000 from PJ Darley, whose ancestors built it in the 1880s.

To the outrage of local residents, the park has remained closed to the public for more than two years, following unsuccessful attempts by Mr O’Gara to establish a tile showroom and an affordable car park on the site.

In February 2008 Dartmouth Square was declared an Architectural Conservation Area by Dublin City Council.

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