College Greenless



College Green, Dublin

Frank Byrne pleads for the retention of the trees in College Green as part of the car-free redevelopment proposals. I think Frank is wrong and that the trees seriously diminish the appreciation of one of Dublin’s great vistas.

Not all trees enhance an urban setting. Would St Peter’s Square in Rome be enhanced by the planting of trees? Of course not. I shall be glad to see the back of them in College Green and we can all revel fully in the facades of Grattan’s parliament building and Trinity College. O’Connell Street benefited greatly from reordering its treescape some years back.

Declan Doyle
Clontarf, Dublin 3.


Trees and College Green (Irish Times letters)

Previously: Four Wheels Bad

Pic: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

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75 thoughts on “College Greenless

    1. pissedasanewt

      I do like a nice tree in fairness, but that pic does look better when there is some nice architecture. Unfortunately , Dublin doesn’t look like that any more. Where ugly shop fronts litter the landscape, so trees to block out some of that tat might not hurt.. its a tough call. I’m sure what ever decision is made will be wrong.

  1. Joe835

    Very true and a point of view that’s rarely-expressed in Ireland. We have a very unhealthy attachment to/obsession with greenery at all costs i.e. that trees, flowers and grass are inherently-good things to add to a setting and equally, that anything old is inherently-better and worthy of preservation at the expense of any possible change.

    We simply don’t have a civic appreciation for architecture, just “trees and that”.

    1. Sniffin

      Dubliners in particular don’t have an appreciation of good architecture considering how much of it they pulled down in the 60s and 70s.

      There aren’t half enough trees and green spaces in the city, especially not in the north inner city–a complete kip.

      1. munkifisht

        The reason the North inner city is like that is because of a lack of investment for donkeys years in public infrastructure, and the reason for that is the rich of the city live south of the river.

    2. medieval knievel

      “anything old is inherently-better and worthy of preservation at the expense of any possible change.”
      are we talking about dublin, ireland?

    3. Small Wonder

      I disagree completely Joe. Ireland has a terrible habit of ripping down trees and pouring concrete, left, right and centre. Every now and then a fecky little flower box will be thrown in somewhere to be neglected and get covered in dust from passing cars. Dublin city is crying out for greenery. It’s in desperate need of oases. The last thing we need to do is give the green light to getting rid of mature trees. I love great architecture as much as the next person (is it really great though?), but it’s not all that a city should be about.
      Argh. I can’t express in this one little comment box how much we need to be doing to the city and encouraging life and growth in every little corner, instead of accepting this choking, exhaust fuming, grey, dusty, hard surfaced, monstrosity we have at the moment.

      1. munkifisht

        Yep, I would love to see the green come back to college green. Remake the park that was there previously. It would be fantastic to have something that people could enjoy right in the center of the city.

    4. LiamZero

      Agree with you for the most part, Joe. However, there is scope for trees on many of Dublin’s streets that don’t currently have them, many of the trees in this city are just in the wrong place. Removing those that are in inappropriate places isn’t the act of eco terrorism many like to claim.
      As a side note, adverbs that end in ‘ly’ do not take a hyphen, the ‘ly’ part makes the hyphen redundant because hyphenating two terms is done to ensure that both words relate to the following word. An adverb ending in ‘ly’ cannot exist on its own, thus it doesn’t take a hyphen. Similar with ‘very’. Sorry, just a pet grammatical hate…

  2. Edwardszszs

    They should absolutely be removed, for some reason Dublin has to have trees blocking up every piece of open space which makes it look really scutty.

    1. Sniffin

      I’d say the abundance of ugly 1960s office blocks and other such buildings are what make it really scutty. The trees improve Dublin a bit at least but the city is an architectural mess.

  3. Ernie Ball

    The places where we need trees and don’t have them are Dublin neighbourhoods, particularly working-class neighbourhoods. Why is that?

  4. Scraib

    I don’t agree with tearing down something that’s been growing in the middle of the city for decades or longer just because someone thinks the view is better without them. Trees/plants and green areas in general enhance a city, not detract from it.

    Also: ‘Revel fully in the facades of Grattan’s parliament building and Trinity College’. Seriously? How many people have stopped in the middle of College Green to think “Ah yeah, this place would be better without the trees because I they block the view of that grey building over there”?

    1. dereviled

      It’s a lovely place when the sub shines and shadow lines highlight the classical details.

  5. James M

    Large open spaces without trees are favoured by despotic regimes (Paris under Emperor Napoleon III; Moscow’s Red Square; St Peter’s in Rome). They allow for the masses to be herded together and addressed by their betters; they provide the dramatic vistas for military parades and Nuremburg-style rallies.

    Trees make cities on a human scale. Their leaves absorb the noise and make gentle conversation possible. They shelter birds who stop insects becoming a problem. They keep the air fresh.

  6. Conor

    No no no no no. I’ve been saying for years that those dam trees have to, they completely ruin the view. I’ve even contemplated donning a hi vis jacket and hiring a chain saw to do it myself on a quiet Bank Holiday morning at 5AM.

  7. bisted

    …in the run up to Bloomsday it should be pointed out that James Joyce lost his virginity to a prostitute up against a tree in Dublin. In a previous tree cull campaign Senator Oliver St John Gogarty (Buck Mulligan in Ulysses) quoted from King Lear to plead that the trees in Dublin were ‘more sinned against than sinning’…little has changed.

  8. Declan Doyle

    I wrote the letter. Thanks for your comments. The Bank of Ireland (former Parliament House pre Act of Union) is, in my opinion, Dublin’s finest Georgian building. The trees are scrubby weeds which detract from it and the Green in general. College Green, with a bit of imagination, could be a European gem. Generally, I’m all in favour of urban greenery, but just not here.

    1. octo

      Hi Declan. Well done for putting that idea out there. I’m in total agreement with you. It’s a fine public space which can’t be appreciated properly. Ignore the facetious insults.

      1. bisted

        …Hi Declan….I would just like to add my voice to the facetious insults…you really are a t**t…

    2. Conor

      Good man Declan, I’ve been spouting it for years as well, constantly falling on deaf ears!! I mentioned it to Frank McDonald before and he told me don’t even try, the morons would be out in force to protect these “amazing” trees. As you said, they’re scrappy looking yokes that ruin what would be a fantastic vista!

      1. Drogg

        A fantastic vista of dirty grey building Tarmac and taxis. Yeah you are really going to make it so much better by getting rid of the green down there.

  9. Neil

    Completely agreed. Get rid of them. I also hope they do not pave the area with the same god-awful stone they’ve just put on Grafton Street.

  10. Drogg

    Ok lets start this simply, we need more fupping trees, as we are fupping up the planet at a pretty good rate so more trees might mean we have air to breath in the future. Secondly cities without trees are fupping boring, Budapest is depressing city to walk around, yes it has amazing architecture but it is dull and grey cause they have no fupping trees, people visit our country because it is green and you w**kers want them ripped down so you can see the Georgian or Victorian buildings left there by our former rulers. But ironically the only reason the parts of town with those buildings are so nice, is because they are lined with fupping trees.
    People who think those trees should be pulled down deserve nothing more then a swift kick to the back of the head so humanity can advance on without them.

    1. Paul Davis

      Hands up how many here have visited a country for its trees.

      95% of the country is covered in trees, what’s wrong with a few hundred square meters for something different?

      The lack of foliage would only emphasise the delineation between urban and rural and could prove just as striking if not more so than one of the many of Irelands beautiful vistas for which we are so famous for.

      1. Drogg

        Firstly your comment is absolute bollox because the country is not 95% covered in trees as you claim. secondly there is currently a very small number of trees in college green in the first place, none of which ruin your view of the building. I professional do shoots down there all the time and have never once thought that a tree is ruining my shot. Finally i work with the tourist industry quite a bit and have met many visitors who love to visit Ireland for how green it is and love to mention that they are surprised by how green Dublin is.

        1. LiamZero

          As there is currently a very small number of trees there, your concern about not having enough air to breathe in the future is hardly going to be eased by those few scraggly yokes in College Green surely?
          You will know they’re in the wrong place if you have any aesthetic values at all. Just because some eejit decided to plant them there in the past few decades (they arrived some time between the 1970s and 1980s) doesn’t mean that getting rid of them is akin to knocking down the pyramids. They look crap there. Removing them won’t change any vistors’ opinion that Dublin is a green city.

          1. Drogg

            Well it’s taking an attitude like that that has left us in the situation we are in. Ah sure let lose one more tree ahh let’s lose entire woodlands maybe we can build some apartments. At the end of the day trees add to college green which is a pretty drab part of town anyway but I suppose you will be clearing the nice view of Abercrombie & Fitch sure who doesn’t want to see that.

          2. LiamZero

            You are clearly not worth engaging with on this issue. I was giving you the benefit of the doubt but you’re talking absolute nonsense now.
            Over and out.

          3. Drogg

            But clearing those trees will give us a beautiful vista of Abercrombie & Fitch, a Grubby Taxi rank, and loads of tarmac. I am in no way being facetious.

          4. LiamZero

            I’m not sure why I’m replying to you, but please be assured I know you’re not being facetious, you’re just being a bit dim.
            – You don’t seem to be aware which trees are being referred to
            – You don’t seem to be aware of the reason the trees would be removed (but to give you a hint, the taxi rank and the expanse of Tarmac would also be removed)
            – You seem to be obsessed about Abercrombie and Fitch being in that building. It’s a fine building and there is relatively tasteful signage on the front. By your logic, the front of Trinity College should be dismissed as a mere office block because many of those rooms fronting on to College Green are offices
            – You seem to think removing a small number of ill-placed, 30-year-old trees is not going to lead to the loss of an entire woodlands. That’s preposterous
            – Finally, your aggressive attitude stinks
            For someone who “professional do shoots” (you’re a photographer?), you sound incredibly visually illiterate. It’s short-sighted attitudes like yours that have left Dublin as architecturally messy as it is. “Sure plant a few trees there, that’ll sort everything out.”

          5. Drogg

            I am aware of where those trees are and still do not believe they ruin the view of ether of those buildings as it it a perspective issue.

            I also understand that there is plans to redevelop college green but even if they remove the tarmac and taxi rank all that will be left is a boring open expanse of concrete.

            And as for your final point having trees in the centre of college green helps break up the dull grey of that part of town and actually enhances it. Good architecture should coincided with nature not destroy it.

          6. LiamZero

            Ok, let’s move past that statue and take in the beauty of Trinity’s frontage:,-6.260678,3a,75y,71.22h,81.57t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s6YD1Uz8CqKYP_P0vULF4-g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
            Looks great alright!
            Seriously, you are so wrong on this one. Turned into a plaza as per the recent plans, this part of town has potential to become a focal point of the city for tourists and residents alike. We are sorely lacking such a place. It’s among the few architecturally pleasing areas of the city centre, and that fact should be utilised. Those trees detract from the area as much as the ugly roadway and the narrow footpaths (which would be hugely reduced) do.

          7. Drogg

            Do you actually know how much space there is past those trees to get an amazing view of trinity? Just cause you seem to want to look at it from half way up dame street doesn’t change the fact that the green is a nice break from all the grey down there.

          1. Drogg

            That is one of the worst angles you could look at that part of town from, You are looking at the back of a statue the side of the Grattan’s parliament building and the traffic on front of trinity.

  11. Shayna

    There is a Republican Recruitment Song, it goes, “And I’m off to Dublin on The Green in The Green” – Now it makes no sense, because it refers to College Green. By the way, my favourite tree is the Silver Birch. I don’t like cats, I love dogs and hate bicycle thieves.

  12. Dec

    I note, and not without a certain irony that our great Leader (for it is he) opened a new power station recently in his own constituency. “Nothing surprising about that!”, I hear you cry, and you’d be right….except for the fact that it is to be fuelled entirely from IMPORTED wood/biomass……I’ll just leave that with you all for a while.

  13. dereviled

    I was brusque earlier but I would like to clarify: I believe green spaces and trees have a place in cities. As regards trees in street spaces, for me, the perfect example is Barcelona centre, a regular grid of wide streets with room for pedestrians and road users and long lines of shady trees of over 100 species which serve a function in the blinding heat.
    In Valencia they have replaced a lacklustre river long parched by agriculture with wooded walks and play areas culminating in a science park and arboretum:
    For others it might be the waving fronds of Miami palms or the oasis of Central Park.
    Even as it is swarmed Hyde Park is a relief from Oxford Circus.
    In a northern clime in a narrow street perhaps we can make a concession for space and the human habitat as in Sachsenhausen in Frankfurt or Pigalle in Paris. The trees in Dublin aren’t always a picture of joy.
    We don’t actually have much stuff and it’s why tourists like the place. The Phoenix Park is ten minutes down the road.
    Feel free to counter! I haven’t been everywhere.

  14. Declan Doyle

    It’s me again, I wrote the innocent letter in the Irish Times suggesting that College Green would be better without the trees. I have never blogged, until I was told that my letter was being commented on. I looked: why are some people so cruel and offensive and insulting? All I suggested was that about 4 scraggy trees would be better gone. Why can’t people be kind, and disagree at the same time. I have been called a t**t: what is that? I am an ordinary man. Who loves trees.

    1. Drogg

      Just not trees in the heart of a dirty city? And you didn’t specify that you only want rid of three trees. I assume you are talking about the ones by the taxi rank? If they are so scraggy and are well away from the front of the bank and trinity then why should they have to be removed maybe you just need to change your perspective of where you are viewing those buildings from. And finally you are allowed to express your opinion, but this is the internet so you should really expect a reaction especially when it is about changing the city we all love. Oh and by the way this is not cruel and offensive this is mere banter.

          1. Drogg

            But the problem with doing that is the man has already made his mind up and i am given the impression that he is not for changing, so that means you must also attack the man as he is the living embodiment of the ideal.

    2. Joe the Lion

      You’re a whiny moaning bollocks – get over yourself

      people are disagreeing with you – grow the fupp up clown

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