The park was closed for two weeks in February after Storm Darwin caused 19 trees to fall, and work was needed to repair damaged pavements, railings and unblock pathways.
Quite a few trees were lost, but staff were particularly sad to lose one of the rarest trees in the park, a beautiful, ornamental tree called Tetradium Danielli, which was about 80 or 90 years old.
It’s commonly called a Bee Bee tree, as it is covered in late July and August with masses of small white flowers which attract large numbers of bees as a source of late-summer honey. It is especially valued when few other tree-size organisms are flowering. The flowers produce clusters of seed that are present from late August through November.
Limerick City and County Council executive engineer Tara Flanagan said: “David Murphy, our parks supervisor, thought it would be a great idea to commemorate the Bee Bee tree, which we all really loved, as did members of the public. So he spoke to Zambian woodcarver Paradazi Havatyitye, who carved three beautiful bees in the remaining stump and we’re delighted with how beautiful it turned out.”
The Parks Department also arranged for the Special Olympics logo to be carved in another storm-damaged tree to commemorate the fact that the Special Olympics Ireland Games will be held in Limerick in June.
A replanting programme is under way to restore the park. Although relatively small at just 10 acres, the Peoples’ Park is one of Ireland’s premier parks. It has remained largely unchanged since it was opened in 1877 and given to the people of Limerick in honour of businessman Richard Russell.
The layout and many of the original features, such as the railings and pavilions, remain and the 1895 bandstand is undergoing renovation.
Limerick Civic Trust, in association with Limerick City Council, provided new benches throughout the park over the last few years that were designed with the elderly and disabled in mind.
The two Victorian pavilions in the park were also restored, along with the new entrance gateway, known as the Pery Gate, facing Colbert train station.
The Richard Russell Fountain was also extensively restored in recent times.
Work is underway to refurbish the 1895 bandstand. This will provide an additional heritage feature for users to enjoy.