Fury as playground becomes a health hazard for children

The overgrown children's playground in Doughiska. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Local residents are up in arms that their much loved park has become the ‘Wild West’ of Galway.

Regular users of Doughiska Park contacted the Galway City Tribune about the state of the park, claiming the grass has not been cut all summer and the area has become a faeces-laden den where children and adults alike are at risk of serious accident due to the lack of maintenance.

Two dead rats were recently discovered at the entrance to Merlin Woods school.

Walkways have become extremely overgrown with weeds and brambles. Boulders which had been placed by the Council to prevent a Traveller encampment have been moved to the centre of the park and are being used by kids to jump off.

Doughiska Park was opened to much fanfare six years ago as a vital resource in an area under intense pressure due to rapid development in the boom years. However, it is now regarded as a no-go area by a large section of the community, according to one resident who bought a home there 11 years ago.

“Myself and my friend were walking up there the other week and there were two dead rats at the entrance to the school. It was absolutely disgusting,” remarked Rosaleen Garvey.

“The wooden slats on the path have become so grown over that if you fell, you’d break your leg. The place is used as a playground by dogs who run around without a leash and is full of faeces – there’s no signs up and when you ask people to pick up after their dog or put them on a leash, you’re told where to go.

“I was told by one man that I should be on a leash myself. My friend who is training for a marathon was bitten by one of these big dogs, she was also hit with a stick and abused verbally by one of the Travellers now living there. It’s got to the point we can’t go there anymore.”

Ms Garvey said she and several neighbours have rang Galway City Council several times and emailed the Parks Department to clean up the park.

Local residents Valerie Carroll (left) and Rosaleen Garvey at the blocked roadway entrance to the park at Doughiska and Merlin Woods.
Local residents Valerie Carroll (left) and Rosaleen Garvey at the blocked roadway entrance to the park at Doughiska and Merlin Woods.

But all to no avail.

In response to warnings that the boulders posed a health and safety risk to children, one official told her they had not been put there by the local authority.

“And then they’re on about stopping the kids from playing ball on the beach. One councillor is selling bottled air, another wanted the dustbins painted – you couldn’t make this up. All of us pay for those people to be in jobs. I went to a meeting once and it was like a bad episode of the Muppets.”

Some locals who used to take it upon themselves to pick up the broken bottles, cans and papers strewn throughout the green have given up in despair.

“All through the summer this has been left as a wasteland – the grass is five feet high. It’s like the wild west,” insisted Ms Garvey.

“It wouldn’t happen in Salthill or Barna, but because the majority of people who live here are foreign nationals they don’t care. People here are obviously not shouting loud enough.”