It’s always great to have wild places in cities. This one is a super water oasis in the middle of Dublin. The ‘Blessington’ in the name comes not from the town in Wicklow but from Blessington Street, in Dublin. It is reached on one side from a linear park that used to be a canal, through a small gate in the surrounding stone wall.
This gives rise to its other name as ‘Secret Garden’. At the other end is a more salubrious entrance, gate and lodge, dating from 1811.
The ‘Basin’ itself is a fairly simple, rectangular tank with vertical walls and an island at its centre. This was originally built in 1810 as a water reservoir (The Royal George Reservoir) for Dubliners and was used by a number of whiskey makers into the 1970s. Restoration in the 1990s cleaned it up and it is now well visited by people and wildlife.
Visiting from the secret end, the first wildlife encounter may well be a pigeon. Feral pigeons know how to find feeding spots and this is a good one with some very regular patrons. They will line up on railings and take off together at the slightest hint of danger or new food, with an alarming beat of wings.
However the Basin often holds some surprising bird-life such as the Hooded Merganser drake and Mandarin duck in the top picture and the Wood duck above.
These are normally found in North America but have presumably found their way here after being discarded by collectors.
Keep an eye out for birds of prey – where there are birds feeding, predators lurk.
For me the star of this show was the male Hooded Merganser which just looks so proud and ‘kingly’, somehow beyond normal reality.
And that’s just what’s so fantastic about the Basin – it is a common haunt of locals and aficionados while at the same time an incredible revelation, haven and uplifting surprise for newbies.
This is a really majestic, beautiful and fun city. The large complex Cathedral and magnificent Giralda tower in Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, together with so many other lovely buildings, could take most of your attention.
These buildings include the Bishop’s Palace in the North of the Plaza
and the Royal Palaces, Reales Alcazares, to the South.
But Seville has much more and demands more time. It is not a place to be rushed and only a hint of Seville’s treasures can be shown here.
Further South still and nearer to the river, you’ll be flabbergasted by Plaza de Espana, stunning at night as much as by day!
And speaking of the river, a walk along the Guadalquivir is very relaxing with rowers and wildlife as well as other jewels including the Golden Tower and the Bull Ring, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza.
It is hard not to see interesting buildings and the bridges are great in their own right.
Beside Plaza de Espana, Maria Luisa Park is full of trees, ducks, water and offers some quiet and shade but it is very popular and busy.
Finally check out a few of the many quirky churches – many along very narrow streets and the Metropole, a sort of modern art city canopy with awalkway and great views from the honeycomb-like roof.
3 tips –
It is a relatively short trip South to Donana National Park with Imperial Eagles, Peregrines, Azure-winged Magpies, Boar, Deer, Lizards and much more are to be seen or even shorter to Charco de la Boca lake at El Rocio where Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, Egrets, Coot and many other birds thrive.
This is a place that produces great food – enjoy.
- Should the unthinkable happen and it rains, explore the interiors of Reales Alcatras and the Cathedral – even if not religious you will come away uplifted! 🙂