Community shocked by destruction of trees in Dublin park

Native saplings and more established cherry blossoms worth €30,000 attacked in ‘horrendous’ act of vandalism

The illegal felling of about 75 trees and saplings, estimated to have been worth over €30,000, in a South Dublin park has been reported to gardaí.

The incident, which occurred last Friday night at the Dodder Valley Park close to the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, shocked and bemused local residents.

It is the second such attack, following a relatively minor incident in April, 2023 where about eight trees were cut down deliberately at the other end of the park.

On Monday, a council team began to examine the damage and a formal audit is expected later in the week. However, the cost of the trees – about 50 saplings of different varieties and 25 mainly mature cherry blossoms – is thought to be about €33,000.


That figure does not factor in the manpower costs in replacing them, which the council has said it intends to do.

The vandalism took place in a single night along a stretch of the Dodder Greenway from the Cherryfield car park entrance. As well as trampled saplings, the offender or offenders systematically cut a long line of path-side cherry blossoms, leaving only a handful intact.

It is believed a battery powered electric saw was used to cut through most of the trunks before they were forced over and snapped, causing irreparable damage.

“It’s left everyone kind of bewildered really. It’s hard to think what the motivation would be – someone with a peculiar axe to grind, literally, and a very sort of targeted piece of vandalism,” said South Dublin County Council’s Mayor Alan Edge who was liaising with the local authority’s tree services staff on Monday morning.

“If there is any silver lining, actually the fact that people were coming together and almost commiserating with each other is a sign of how far we have moved as a county and a community here. People really do feel the loss of these trees very, very deeply.”

There has been huge investment in Dodder Valley Park in recent years – the damaged trees were just some of thousands planted in the area as part of a partnership between the local authority and community groups. About €4 million has been spent annually on planting and maintenance over the last five years.

Caragh Coote, a volunteer with the Dodder Action group, established to monitor the welfare of the river area, explained that the saplings, or whips, apparently trampled into the ground, were native Irish species.

“Some have just literally been kicked over. I have never seen so much rage; it’s anger. It’s just devastating to all of us who have put so much time into this beautiful park,” she said.

The scene prompted a noticeable reaction from the pedestrians, runners and dog-walkers who routinely trail the Greenway path, flanked now by a long row of toppled cherry blossoms.

“That’s the mentality that’s out there now,” said Eamon Hanratty who stopped to look over the scene. Noleen, out walking with her daughter, said the situation had prompted a visceral reaction from families in the park over the weekend.

Local councillor Emma Murphy, chair of the Dodder Greenway steering committee, said it brought back memories of a similar, if less severe, destruction of trees last year.

“The usage [of the Greenway] is just absolutely huge and people are really respecting it and to see somebody just really deliberately go and attempt to ruin the park is just horrendous,” she said.

South Dublin County Council said it was evaluating the scale of the damage and appealed for witnesses to contact investigating gardaí.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times