The Traffic School in Clontarf… a little piece of history… April 11, 2009Posted by WorldbyStorm in Social History.
I visited the site of the old Dublin Corporation Traffic School in Clontarf the weekend before last. I’m sure many people have seen it and many more will remember it. A small enclosed world, set between Alfie Byrne Road and the newish (well… to me anyhow) station at Clontarf, with its own roads, pedestrian crossings, signs and known to generations of school children. This was where we brought to learn the rules of the road, and then… and this was the important bit… ‘drive’ pedaled ‘cars’ around those miniature roads for five or ten minutes.
This is what it looked like (embedding is disabled but click on the link and it will bring you straight to the YouTube clip);
I must have been there sometime in 1972 or 3. I can’t think that it was any later than that because I remember being very very young (no doubt someone will correct me and I’ll discover I was 12).
The site today is deserted. Some of it has been given over to a playing field. It’s clear that it’s also used for making woodchips. In fact I suspect Christmas trees are broken down there. And because it has been part opened as a way to the DART it is possible to walk around it.
It’s odd for a number of reasons. Firstly there is the JG Ballard like desolation. This is what you feel that our cities would be like after the bomb. The road surfaces are actually in pretty good shape, but the verges and traffic islands are overgrown. The main centre where we filed in for the class on road safety is now boarded up. When I last visited an alarm was going in one building. The other oddness is trying to match it to my memories. I seem to recall the sea was an awful lot closer than it is today, that looking out from the school one could see the smooth surface of the water of the bay. A lot depends on when Alfie Byrne Road was built and whether that was reclaimed land. And then I remember the day I was there it was sunny, but cold. I’ll have to ask my friends from that time if that’s what they remember as well.
Here’s some photographs of what it looks like today. Perhaps some people know the history of the place and why it was eventually shut down (sometime in the last five years I believe).