Time to Act is NOW

Ashbourne’s Historic Deficit:

Ashbourne has always been well served by a vibrant community spirit, which has spawned many voluntary organisations, cultural, sporting, charitable, business and others. This collective spirit and sense of community has undoubtedly attracted many people to settle here. A signal gap is the absence of publicly-accessible greenspace, in other words a Community Park. This absence was brought home with a vengeance during the recent lockdown, when access to the large parks in Fingal and elsewhere in Meath were out of bounds. The provision of a public Park would rectify a major deficit in local infrastructure and would greatly benefit, not only local residents but also the people of Fingal, Ratoath, Dunshaughlin, and surrounds.

The case for equitable treatment has been well made already in the Ashbourne Playspaces Network/Future Analytics Report:

In November 2017 the Ashbourne Playspaces Network (APN) submitted a document to MCC which they had commissioned from Future Analytics Consulting Limited.  It sets out clearly what the requirements for a Public Park, meeting best international standards, are for a Town of Ashbourne’s size, demographics and likely future development. This is an excellently argued case which still stands. We believe it has not received the attention or generated the analysis and discussion it should have prompted. It sets out the case in forensic detail and rewards a careful reading. In building up the case, it traces historic investment by MCC in public development projects over the last two decades. By any standards of comparison, Ashbourne has been seriously neglected; the anecdotal evidence that MCC has historically favored what it perceives as ‘the heartland’ (Navan, Trim, Kells) is borne out by the facts. The report is replete with this evidence, a summary of which is presented here:


Dunshaughlin Kells Navan


Population (2016)


4,026 6,075 29,884 9,194

# of Projects since 2004


7 26 26


Public park per 1,000 pop. 0.3 Ha 0.8 Ha 1.3 Ha 0.9 Ha


This table is drawn from various parts of the APN/Future Analytics report.

This may be the time for some New Deal thinking

This opportunity presented in the shape of the sale of Killegland Farm has come on the scene at a time of great uncertainty. We are not in any way naive about this. A conservative economic view would caution that we should lie low, fold our tents for the moment, and await calmer economic weather.

We would eschew such a knee-jerk reaction. Great uncertainties abound, that is for sure, but that doesn’t automatically determine that a ‘wait and see’ approach is appropriate. We sense that these uncertainties conceal as many opportunities as they do pitfalls, and that they will reward an imaginative and agile strategy.

Expanding on our intuitive sense that we should find a way to move now, consider the following reasons:

Economic: In early April the NTMA borrowed €6 billion at 0.24%. Rates will stay low until the next boom at least. The trend and opportunity will be to borrow and spend on public projects, in true Keynesian fashion.

Political: Austerity is only one antidote to an economic depression, which the IMF are predicting as a strong possibility. The last Great Depression was ended by FDR’s New Deal, and the hints out of Europe signal that this thinking is being dusted off and re-examined. Political realignments at home might suggest a likely inclination in the same direction. Recent public statements and the new Program for Government suggest that overt Austerity will not be used this time, that societal imperatives may trump purely economic concerns. This could be helpful in our case.

Social change: Even before the pandemic, the barometer was moving towards the primacy of social issues over purely economic considerations. The pandemic experience will accelerate this, tending towards a new localism and centrality of Community in how we organise ourselves. This may not be good news for everyone, but it should help make our case.

This is a low-risk proposal: If the land is obtainable at a reasonable price, or through a good trade, this is an almost zero-risk project. If the more ambitious aspirations prove unattainable, any investment can quickly be recouped to manageable proportions by disposing of assets not needed for the primary objective, i.e. the Park and the Sports hub.

Track Record: Ashbourne Communities have a track record of tackling large projects involving substantial investment and doing so successfully. For ref, click here.

So, we are not proposing to lie low. We are positive that on the balance of probabilities, we have a good chance of achieving our goals. However, we are conscious that this may not be the occasion when we get what we seek, that it will transpire that Killegland Park is not to be. But if we don’t succeed on this occasion it will not be for want of our imaginatively exploring all options. In any case, even if we don’t succeed this time, the work we do will largely be applicable to the next opportunity that will surface. No sense in waiting until everything is perfect, and times have stopped changing – that time will never come.

Why we need to act now?

Consider the location of Killegland Farm; no comparable land-bank exists that is more suitable than Killegland Farm in terms of proximity to areas of population. This opportunity would be no less than a gamechanger for the Town; it would be on a par with the building of the Community Centre, the acquisition of the Golf Club, and the construction of Ashbourne Community School in terms of impact arising from focused and energetic Community attention. At the time, those initiatives raised the quality of life in Ashbourne to a new level.

Now, as we enter the third century of the Town’s existence, we are presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver another quantum boost to the quality of life in our Town and to secure greenspace and sports facilities for now and for generations to come.