Haute cuisine for rare birds in Booterstown
Published August 29, 2006 | by: Huib Zegers
Squeezed between a busy road and a commuter railway line, the muddy four hectares of land known as Booterstown Marsh is an unlikely location for a nature reserve. Especially as the city centre of Dublin is just a few kilometers up the road.
But neither the constant noise of the traffic on the Rock Road nor the rattling of Dart and Commuter trains seem to disturb the Dunlins, Redshanks or Black-tailed Godwits when they indulge in their exquisite food which can be found there in ample supply.
The Booterstown Marsh resulted from the building in 1834 and 1835 of the Dublin to Kingstown (now called Dún Laoghaire) railway line, which was the second passenger railway and first dedicated commuter line in the world. The line was built on an embankment, protected by a granite seawall, and this cut off two arcs of the tidal shore.
By 1876 this reclaimed land was in agricultural use, made possible by the use of water control systems. A large gate valve was installed at the southern outlet to the sea, which was lowered on the flow tide and raised on the ebb tide. The Williamstown lagoon acted as a sump, collecting the water draining from the agricultural land. Some landfill soil raised the level of the marsh and it was irrigated with fresh water from a number of local streams.