River Dodder

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River Dodder
An Dothra
River Dodder Rathgar snow.JPG
Dodder through Rathgar
Origin Kippure Mountain, County Dublin
Mouth Dublin Docklands, ultimately Dublin Bay (River Liffey)
Length 26 kilometres (16 mi) [1]
Source elevation 763 metres [2]
Basin area 120.8 km2 (12,080 ha) [2]
River system River Liffey
Left tributaries Cot Brook, Slade Brook, Glassavullaun, Ballymaice Stream, Jobstown (or Tallaght) Stream, Muckross Stream, Swan River
Right tributaries Mareen's Brook, Ballinascorney Stream, Piperstown Stream, Owendoher River (with Whitechurch Stream), Little Dargle River (with Castle Stream), River Slang (Dundrum River, with Wyckham Stream)

The River Dodder (Irish: An Dothra) is one of the three main rivers in Dublin, Ireland, the others being the Liffey, of which the Dodder is the largest tributary, and the Tolka.

Course and system

The Dodder rises on the northern slopes of Kippure in the Wicklow Mountains, and is formed from several streams. The headwaters flow from Kippure Ridge, and include, and are often mapped solely as, Tromanallison (Allison's Brook), which is then joined by Mareen's Brook, including the Cataract of the Brown Rowan, and then the combined flow meeting the Cot and Slade Brooks.

In the river's valley at Glenasmole are the two Bohernabreena Reservoirs, a major part of the Dublin water supply system.

The Dodder is 26 kilometres (16 mi) long.[1] It passes the Dublin suburbs of Tallaght and then Firhouse, travels through Rathfarnham, Templeogue, Rathgar, Milltown, Clonskeagh, Donnybrook, and Ballsbridge, and enters the Liffey near Ringsend, along with the Grand Canal, at Grand Canal Dock.

There is a weir just above the bridge at Ballsbridge and the river becomes tidal roughly where the bridge at Lansdowne Road crosses it. The Dodder and the River Tolka are Dublin's second largest rivers, after the Liffey.


The Dodder's main tributaries after Glenasmole, in and prior to which many streams join, are the Jobstown (or Tallaght) Stream, the Owendoher River and its tributary the Whitechurch Stream, the Little Dargle River (with Castle Stream and other tributaries), the Slang or Dundrum River,[2] the Swan River (or Water), and the small Muckross Stream.[3][4]

Link with the Poddle

The River Poddle, a tributary of the Liffey in its own right, was linked with the River Dodder from Balrothery Weir, just north of Firhouse, from the 13th century. This link formerly provided much of Dublin City's water supply. Known as the "City Watercourse," it ran through part of Templeogue. It was partly piped in the mid-20th century, and the connection was later broken by housing development. All that remains now are a small channel from the weir, dead-ending less than 100m from the weir, and some unseen underground flows.


The Dodder once supplied many mills, but all are now disused: the de Meones family, who gave their name to Rathmines, owned a mill here as early as the mid-fourteenth century.[5] In the sixteenth century much of the surrounding lands belonged to the Talbot family, ancestors of the Talbots of Mount Talbot. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Domvile family, who owned much of Templeogue, effectively controlled access to much of the river, which passed through their estates. At that time the Dodder was the main source of Dublin's drinking water, and fairly or unfairly, the Domviles were accused of using their control of the Dublin water supply to further their own political ends, by threatening to divert its course.

File:The Dodder - 300 metres from the Liffey its source.JPG
The River Dodder at Ringsend, in Dublin 4 overlooking the Grand Canal Basin, Facebook and the Bord Gáis Theatre. Roughly 300 metres from the River Liffey.


The river floods some surrounding areas from time to time, as it is too short and shallow to hold the volume of water which pours into it from its tributaries during heavy rain.

A flood on the Dodder in March 1628 claimed the life of Arthur Ussher, Deputy Clerk to the Privy Council of Ireland who was "carried away by the current, nobody being able to succour him, although many persons.. his nearest friends, were by on both sides."[6]

The two greatest Dodder floods before 1986 occurred on 25 August 1905, and on 3 and 4 August 1931. Hurricane Charley (often spelled "Charlie" in Ireland) passed south of the country on 25 August 1986. In 24 hours, 200mm (almost 8 inches) of rain poured down on Kippure Mountain while 100mm fell on Dublin causing heavy river flooding, including the Dodder in many places, and hardship and loss were experienced.[2]

It has long been reognised that the problem of flooding is very difficult to solve, due to the sheer volume of water which pours into the river during periods of heavy rainfall.

Flora and fauna

There is an abundance of flora and fauna at the river. However, as the river flows through urban areas, pollution has long been a problem.[7]


Flora along the river is varied. Bryophytes and algae are common with an abundance of filamentous green algae. Crocosmia, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam are the only invasive species recorded along the river. [8]


The Dodder is home to many water-bird species including mallard, grey heron, kingfisher, dipper, coot, moorhen, grey wagtail and mute swan; the sparrowhawk nests in the trees lining the riverbanks. The red fox is common along the riverbank and the badger and otter have also been seen. In recent years a small feral population of mandarin ducks has become established. It was reported in 2013 that an Irish Wildlife Trust survey found otters living along the Dodder.[9]

Fish present in the river include brown trout, sea trout, stone loach, three-spined stickleback and European eel. Atlantic salmon can also be found in the river's lower course.[8]

Atlantic salmon and lamprey eels are expected to return to most of the river after a more than 200 year absence pending the construction of fish ladders [10]

Fishing and angling

The Dodder is a popular river for fishing and angling amongst Dubliners. The fishing season is open between 17 March and 30 September.


Dodder in the Dublin Mountains 2.5 km from its source 
Under the bridge at Springfield Avenue, Templeogue 
The Dodder at Ballsbridge 
River sign 

See also


External Sources

  • Doyle, Joseph W. (2011) [2008]. Ten Dozen Waters: The Rivers and Streams of County Dublin (3rd edition). Dublin, Ireland: Rath Eanna Research. pp. 1–30 + ii + map. ISBN 978-0-9566363-1-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Sweeney, Clair L. (1991). The Rivers of Dublin. Dublin, Ireland: Dublin Corporation. pp. 1–115, inc. many maps. ISBN 0-9505301-4-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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