Have you seen these 2 picturesque parks of Dublin?
On days when you need serenity or on beautiful days, you just want or need to be outside, so why not join the many other Dubliners who love to get out and enjoy ‘the lungs of the city’? From the historic Phoenix Park to the central St Stephen’s Green, to name but two, Dublin is full of beautiful, relaxing green spaces.
But in this article, I am only going to write about the two most common, best known, beautiful and biggest parks of Dublin: Phoenix Park and St Stephen’s Green.
Dublin hosts one of Europe’s largest city parks – Phoenix Park, which celebrated its 350th birthday in 2012. With many trees, open green areas, several monuments and even a Zoo, this park is often a perfect hangout and picnic spot for both families and students looking to escape the Dublin city buzz.In Belgium, we also have a few parks even hidden beautiful ones but still … When I arrived here and saw all the different parks with the hop on hop off bus I didn’t expect Dublin to be this full off parks. For a small city centre Dublin has a lot of parks and a few (hidden) beautiful ones as well.
The first one that took my breath away is also the biggest one, namely, Phoenix park. When we drove through the gates with the hop on hop off bus I couldn’t believe my eyes 😮
Such a big and beautiful park with a lot of activities, a lot of buildings and with a zoo inside! I even saw some deer while passing through the park!
*Believe me, I was astonished to see some deer just walking and sitting there*
In my country and city (Lommel) we have some wild deer in the forest but you almost never see them… They like to hide, I think…. 😉
But in the end, it’s almost everywhere the same. Why? Because it has the same purpose: if you need to escape a busy city or you had a bad day or you need to blow off some steam, we go to a quiet place where we can walk, sit, breath and relax again.
Did you had or have the same impressions of Phoenix park? Tell me, what do you think about this place? Also, do you know the whole history of Phoenix Park? It’s quite interesting.
Phoenix Park is like I said one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European capital city. It was originally formed, by James Butler who was Duke of Ormond, as a royal hunting Park in the 1660’s.
A herd of Fallow Deer has lived in the Park since the 1660’s when they were introduced by the Duke of Ormond. Phoenix Park is a sanctuary for many mammals and birds and a wide range of wildlife habitats are to be found in the park. Phoenix park was opened to the public in 1747 and a large herd of fallow deer remain to this day.
Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of the President of Ireland dates from 1750 and is in the centre of the park next to or in front of the United States Ambassador’s residence, which was built in 1774. There are also many other historic buildings and monuments located in the Park.
The Victorian People’s Flower Gardens were initially well-known in 1840 as the Promenade Grounds, this with ornamental lakes, children’s playground, picnic area and Victorian bedding schemes, ….
Lastly, the Dublin Zoo was founded in 1830.
What to do?
Phoenix Park has many walking paths for the leisure walker to explore, which makes it perfect for a quiet day of nature. And many tracks take off through the long grass and wander along through meadow grasses to nowhere in particular. 🙂
Phoenix Park Bikes are located inside the main gate on Parkgate Street. A wide range of bikes are designed to be fit for all ages and the newly extended network of 14 km of cycle lanes make this a safe and enjoyable way for people to experience and explore the Park. 🙂
The park contains several sports grounds for football, hurling, soccer, cricket and polo, … Just to name a few, but they have a lot more. 🙂
You can also try to take your food and drinks with you (best on a sunny day) and just go sit somewhere and enjoy the beauty of Phoenix Park while eating, drinking and talking to your company. 🙂
By now, Dublin Zoo is one of the oldest zoo in the world and can be seen on your own or you can do this as an activity on a family day.
Legend has it that Ireland’s first Hollywood star, Cairbhe the lion, was born in the park before he went on to become the logo for MGM film studios and we renamed him Leo. 🙂
Phoenix Café, Tea Rooms & Ice Cream Kiosks
The café serves a wide range of hearty quiches, soups, salads and homemade cakes. Everything is prepared freshly and is mostly organic. There is a daily special and a range of toasted foccacia, panini and wraps with intensity fillings. They also have a wide range of speciality teas, coffee, lattés and cappucinos.
The café is surrounded by beautiful trees with a large outdoor terrace perfect for “al fresco dining”.
Constructed as an ice cream kiosk for visitors to The Park and nearby Dublin Zoo, today the Tea Rooms serve a wide variety of delicious, freshly made dishes. Visitors can enjoy speciality organic coffee and tea, gluten and dairy free cakes and desserts, baked daily on site, as well as vegan and sugar free treats.
In addition, the Tea Rooms serve delicious hot food including paninis, organic salads, soups and baked potatoes, which can be enjoyed either “al fresco” or indoors in this beautiful period building.
Ice cream kiosks:
Ice cream vendors are located at the Papal Cross. This location is popular for tourists and regular visitors to the park because it is close to where the deer herd can be found and the Papal Cross.
St Stephen’s Green
St Stephen’s Green Park is a historical park and garden, located in the centre of Dublin city.
The park is an important public resource in the area, and provides an oasis of green calm in the middle of a bustling city.
Its four centuries of history are eventful and complex, involving such important figures such as Arthur Guinness. The park itself hosts many important sculptural monuments to Irish history. Many species of birds and plants also call the park their home. Public facilities at St Stephen’s Green Park include a playground and a garden for the visually impaired.
The second park we saw with the hop on hop off bus was St Stephen’s Green. My first impression was different than the one of Phoenix park. Why? Because it is a different kind of park…
This park is still a big one, especially for one in the city centre, but once you enter the park you can see the differences between the parks. St Stephen’s Green looks more like a park while Phoenix park looks more like a huge forest or an activity place with all its different possibilities.
So, once you enter St Stephen’s Green you see some trees, walking pads, flowers and in the middle of the park you will find some fountains and a huge pond. You can cross this pond thanks to a beautiful bridge and while walking this bridge you will have a better view of the park on both sides. 🙂
You can even just sit and relax on one of the benches next to the water and feed some ducks, if you like. Or just sit on the grass and relax for a bit (with some food or drinks) 😉
I also noticed that a lot of working people or even students just walk through this park during the day and the evening on their way to work or school. Sometimes I still wish I needed to go through this park… Going through a park before going to work and/or after work would help me get some rest and relax a bit. 🙂
Did you had or have the same impressions of St Stephen’s green? Tell me, what do you think about this park? Also, do you know the whole history of this park? If not, please read further because this one also has an interesting history!
Until 1663 St Stephen’s Green was a muddy space on the edge of Dublin, used for grazing. In that year Dublin Corporation, seeing an opportunity to raise much needed revenue, decided to enclose the centre of the common and to sell land around the perimeter for building.
The park was enclosed with a wall in 1664. The houses built around the Green were rapidly replaced by new buildings in the Georgian style and by the end of the eighteenth century the Green was a place of resort for the better ones of the city. Much of the present-day landscape of the square comprises modern buildings, some in a replica Georgian style, and relatively little survives from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The landscaping of the park has undergone three major changes since its beginning. Its first major change occurred in 1670: two rows of lime trees were planted around the perimeter, functioning as its first enclosure. Now, the park was only accessible to the wealthy residents who owned plots around the park.
In 1815 the park was redesigned by the Dublin city surveyor Arthur Neville. In his redesign, he added winding pathways and iron fences. Now, the park was still closed to the public.
During the 1860s, the campaign to make the park publicly accessible was underway, and the city engineer proposed a new design to make the park as walkable and as practical as possible. This included creating four gates at each corner of the park that would be linked by the existing pathways. This plan was eventually abandoned.
However, the addition of the gates and connecting pathways, were included in the final plans, made by the designer responsible for the landscape of the park as we know it today.
What to do?
Relax and enjoy nature
The waterfall and Pulham rock work on the western side of the green are worth of a visit but also the ornamental lake, which provides a home for waterfowl and a garden for the visually impaired.
Watching art and history
Several sculptures are located throughout the green.
A children’s playground
This is a popular attraction of the park for parents with little children.
These are performed during the summer months, so check your calendar upfront. 🙂
Also, a picnic, resting, relaxing, sitting, walking, feeding the ducks, taking pictures, … are a possibility at St Stephen’s Green 😀