Mud Island is a volunteer led community garden in Dublin’s North East Inner City. It was developed on a derelict site owned by Dublin City Council. The site was overgrown, used as an illegal dump and cost the Council thousands each year to clear it. Following a two-year campaign by local residents, the Council granted a licence to Mud Island in October 2011, and it is renewed annually.
The site has now been cleared, raised beds built for vegetables, fruit bushes and trees, a polytunnel and garden sheds erected, and flower garden and sitting area created. Mud Island is farmed collectively and the produce shared. The garden has a clear policy of social inclusion and membership is open to anyone in the area. Members pay a small annual fee (€5 per household if unemployed, €10 if employed). The garden is run by a committee elected each year at an AGM and is guided by a constitution, garden rules, and codes of behaviour. Committee members are keyholders for the garden. The garden was originally 330 square metres, but in 2014 the council granted an extension, so the total size of the garden is now 612 square metres.
Mud Island has received grants from several sources to aid its development, including Community Growers Fund, Croke Park Community Fund, Dublin City Council, IFSC Inner City Trust and Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership grant and also organises fundraising events. It has been the recipient of several Dublin Central and Citywide Neighbourhood Awards for Best Community Garden and Environmental Initiative, and was nominated by Dublin City Council for the national Pride of Place awards in 2017. The garden has featured on television shows including Nationwide and GIY’s Grow Cook Eat. The purpose of Mud Island Community Garden is not just to grow fruit and vegetables for members to share. It plays a recreational and educational role in the local community and contributes to an improved environment. It provides a space for people to relax, enjoy surroundings and meet neighbours, and regularly runs courses e.g. on gardening and composting. The garden is used by local schools and youth groups, and has a pizza oven, BBQ and two stages. It holds events throughout the year that are open to all, including an annual Open Day, and partners with local organisations like the Five Lamps Arts Festival, DCC’s Culture Connects and The House Presents for some of these events.
All the benefits of community growing are evident in this small community garden – it improves the quality of life and health of its members, contributes to biodiversity and sustainability, increases the ‘green canopy’ in the NEIC area of Dublin, acts as a catalyst for neighbourhood and community development and has stimulated social interaction between different generations and cultures.
The Origins of our name: The area “westward of the North Strand, between Nottingham Street and Newcomen Bridge, and extending as far as Ballybough Road” was originally known as Mud Island. For over 200 years it was a locality of evil repute, “inhabited by a gang of smugglers, highwaymen, and desperadoes of every description” (from The Neighbourhoods of Dublin by Weston St. John Joyce, 1909). It even gets a mention in James Joyce’s Ulysses “At Newcomen bridge Father Conmee stepped into an outward bound tram for he disliked to traverse on foot the dingy way past Mud Island”.