The first thing that struck me during the Saturday I spent on Mobhi Road, home of Na Fianna GAA club, was the amount of people who strolled through the gates. Watching locals of all ages arriving for the nursery which runs between 9am and 11am it was instantly clear that the club is at the heart of a community.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland will sit down with Na Fianna to formulate a plan over the coming weeks and months, the club will be offered suitable pitches to use for the duration of the Metro Link project.
The facilities on Mobhi Road, where the noise of kids playing provides the soundtrack to a Saturday morning will be replaced by the din of heavy machinery. The palpable sense of happiness and pride that permeates the club will be sacrificed for the greater good, a much needed and long awaited improvement in transport links in that part of the city.
There is no doubt about it, the project will ultimately benefit thousands of people in Dublin for generations to come. Na Fianna’s pitches, along with the pristine playing surface of Home Farm will be requisitioned and used to house a tunnel boring depot for the duration of the Metro Link construction project, with a permanent underground station being situated under Mobhi Road upon completion in 2027.
The club may in time have no choice but to come to terms with the facts, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Part of the problem with the proposal from TII is that they have demonstrated little understanding of what the needs of the ‘few’ actually are. They know the ‘many’ need a metro, they know the ‘few’ need pitches. This simplistic summary misses the point completely.
For members of Na Fianna this is not about the grass on Mobhi Road, or even the posts or the pitches. It is about the strange magnetic pull that it has, members of all ages have for 63 years gravitated to the grounds, some play football, some play hurling, some socialise, some play traditional music in the bar.
The loss of playing pitches is not what alarms the people the most, they fear having the heart of the community ripped out and relocated. The message coming strongly from the club is that the GAA fundamentally is about locality, a pride in your community and an attachment to the place. This is not an NFL franchise that can up sticks and move 10 miles down the road.
Placing importance on social capital might be difficult if you’re the one tasked with planning to construct a Metro in a built up urban area, there will some hurt. The scale of which cannot be understated.
The pride in the developing and nurturing of young players was a theme that was common among members I spoke to, one of them Peg King, she a founding member of the club back in 1955 along with her husband Paddy.
She implored planners to come to Mobhi Road on a Saturday, witness the work they are doing and then make a decision.
“It’s a disgrace and there are alternatives, they’re always talking about underground, there are plenty of places around here for an underground train if they have to have it, which I don’t think they do, we have a lot of transport around the city.
“I think that those who are planning these things should come out, spend a few months in the vicinity, be part of the locality and see the damage they’re doing, they can’t see this by sitting in an office chair and looking at a map, that’s not good enough.
“Its human beings we’re talking about, they’re not thinking about the future of these children.”