Limerick hosted the first International Food Truck Festival recently in the People’s Park.
As I stood in the park surrounded by an epicurean waft I met a man. We had a chat and in the course of the conversation he revealed that in over 40 years living and working in Limerick he had never taken a stroll in the People’s Park.
I would take a guess that he isn’t alone.
The history of the People’s Park is interesting. Typical of other Georgian parks, the Limerick space was originally designed as a key-holder’s park exclusively for use by those living in the grandeur of Pery Square.
Those responsible for developing Pery Square ran out of money and only side of the square was completed. It was then decided to gift the park to the people of Limerick under a 500-year licence.
Since opening to the public in the 1870’s the People’s Park has been planted and landscaped beautifully. Limerick now boasts a relatively small urban park but one that meanders, slopes and reveals little secrets to those who grace it with their presence.
The space is the pride of the parks department at Limerick City and County Council. Their work can clearly be seen in the meticulous attention to detail seen particularly during the summer months as blossoming beds sing to the trees.
When in recent years many of the park’s old trees were ravaged by storm winds we didn’t despair. Instead we invited skilled craftspeople to work their magic. Specialist woodcarvers transformed the forlorn stumps into works of art.
Limerick Civic Trust has played its part also, most notably with the stunning refurbishment of the 1895 bandstand as well as the provision of the many benches dotted throughout the space.
On a sunny day a few years ago I texted a friend to ask if they fancied spending an afternoon in the People’s Park. It was hard to forget the response I received. “I’m not going into that Park”, she said. “It’s full of scobes”. I let her to her business and took a book to the park.
I have often wondered what it is about certain Limerick people who seem to refuse to find it within themselves to acknowledge the beauty of our city.
Could it be that we still have a hangover from the days when the Ennis Road, the North Circular, the South Circular, the Mill Road and others were home to our elite while the hoi polloi were left to fester in our Georgian slums?
Whatever the case may be one thing is certain – there is a certain demographic of our urban and suburban population who are missing a trick when it comes to making the most of what our city offers.
The fact that the local authority earlier this month took it upon themselves to invest in a festival that had no track record deserves recognition. The fact that the festival showcased one of our most beautiful assets was icing on the cake.
If the reported numbers were correct then over 40,000 people used the People’s Park that weekend. Most, probably, for the first time.
I hope the Food Truck festival grows legs but most of all I hope that we have now recognised the potential the People’s Park has in terms of event and people oriented celebration.