Let’s stick some concrete on it.’
So runs official opinion in Ireland, land of the 40 shades of green, home to the Wild Atlantic Way – western Europe’s windswept, unspoilt outpost.
Where the post is likely an unsightly iron rod jammed into a pristine patch of auld sod. With a wall around it.
Living in Dublin, I’m lucky enough – when I take a car to the city – to drive home along Clontarf Road, known locally as the ‘coast road’.
The clue’s in the name. One of the most enjoyable parts of the trip is passing St Anne’s Park, where the seaward view opens up to the expanse of North Bull Island (a Unesco-designated biosphere), the lagoon before and the hill of Howth behind.
It’s a small pleasure, enjoyed by generations of Dubliners who’ve taken this route over the decades. Until now. Lost is the view of late – to drivers at least – soon to be replaced by a 85cm-high wall.
Instead of calming waters and wildlife we can now look forward to a kilometre of concrete – dull and gray, until the graffiti starts appearing.
The City Council claims the move is part of flood defence works, despite the fact that the only floods lifelong residents of the area can recall occur on the park side of the road. If even sea levels are rising, are they doing so by 70cms, the extra height the new wall adds to its predecessor?
It baffles me. Then again, I don’t work in local government or construction or the Brutalist-revival network. I just live here. And drive a road whose view I used to enjoy.
What makes the edifice all the more tragically amusing is that reports of it emerged in the city paper on a week when the Irish tourism agency, Failte Ireland, launched a new €1m marketing campaign promoting the city as an outdoor destination – “Dublin – A Breath of Fresh Air”.
“Dublin – framed by concrete” doesn’t have quite the same ring.