The square became the subject of controversy in 2005, when it emerged that years previously Athlone businessman Noel O'Gara bought the freehold on the square for £10,000 from PJ Darley, a descendant of the squares' builders. O'Gara locked the gates on the park in the square in 2006. He tried to operate it as a car park but local residents blocked the gates.
In 2007 Noel O'Gara began selling tiles from the park with residents objecting on the grounds that he did not have planning permission to operate a showroom there. In late 2008 tents were erected in the park and residents urged councillors to take action against Noel O'Gara. Mr. O'Gara claimed that a man living in one tent was his gardener. In December 2008 the tents caught fire and a man was hospitalised.
In June 2009 a deal between local resident Peter O’Brien and Noel O'Gara that Mr. O'Gara run the park as an amenity for the local community. In September 2009 singer Damien Rice took part in a tree planting coordinated by Peter O'Brien, planting 32 apple and pear trees.
Events in the Square
The space is regularly used by the residents. A local collective known as 'Happenings' host outdoor events here. Every Saturday during the good weather Yoga happens outside in the square. In the winter months it happens round the corner in the Dartmouth Church hall.
In December 2012 the square was sold at auction on instruction of the liquidator of Marble and Granite Tiles. Noel O'Gara protested at the sale, though the property was eventually sold jointly to Dublin City Council and local residents for €142,000.
- Dartmouth Square owner to challenge ruling, RTE News, 25 September 2006, retrieved 4 September 2009
- Dartmouth park to reopen after deal reached with owner, Steven Carroll, The Irish Times, 10 June 2009
- O'Gara vows Supreme Court bid to stop council buying his public park, Irish Independent, 26 September 2006, retrieved 4 September 2009
- Dartmouth Sq controversy resurfaces, RTE News, 3 March 2007, retrieved 4 September 2009
- Campsite fury hits leafy Dartmouth Square, Cormac Murphy, Evening Herald, 10 November 2008, retrieved 4 September 2009
- Council intent on taking park owner down a peg, Mark Hilliard, Sunday Tribune, 14 December 2008, retrieved 4 September 2009
- Residents at Dartmouth Square ready to go into battle over state of park, Cormac Murphy, Evening Herald, 6 January 2009, retrieved 4 September 2009
- Singer replants Dartmouth Square, Genevieve Carberry, The Irish Times, 24 September 2009, retrieved 25 September 2009
- Pope, Conor (5 December 2012). "Locals jointly buy Dartmouth Square park". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 December 2012.