Parks and Gardens in Central Dublin

01 of 09

Dublin's Parks and Gardens - in a Central Location

Relaxing in Dublin's parks ... a good option on a sunny day!

Bernd Biege

Dublin's parks and gardens are often a shortcut during daylight hours, at night (when they are shut) a hindrance to navigate around. But they are also a blessing - if you need some quality time, a bit of a walk, some nature, some fresh air ... well, if you do not want to visit a park outside Dublin's city centre, here are some suggestions where to take a breather in central Dublin.

In strictly alphabetical order, follow me to the Archbishop Ryan Park in Merrion Square, the Blessington Street Basin, the Dubh Linn Gardens, the Garden of Remembrance, Iveagh Gardens, St. Audoen's Park, St. Patrick's Park, and (of course) St. Stephen's Green.

02 of 09

Archbishop Ryan Park - Merrion Square

In pensive mood in Dublin's Archbishop Ryan Park (Merrion Square) - the Éire Memorial.

Bernd Biege

Archbishop Ryan Park in a Nutshell:

The Archbishop Ryan Park, often better (but wrongly) known as "Merrion Square", is the park to relax in if you have just visited stately Merrion Square and the Government Buildings. Or the National Gallery. Though the many works of art in the park itself will make you think it is an al fresco extension of the gallery.

Where Do I Find Archbishop Ryan Park?

The park is in the middle of Merrion Square and sometimes known simply under that name as well. It is right across the road from Leinster House, the Natural History Museum, and the National Gallery.

How do I get to Archbishop Ryan Park?

Many bus routes stop at or very near Merrion Square, as do most tour buses. The DART station Pearse Street is not too far away either.

When is Archbishop Ryan Park Open?

Roughly during daylight hours - opening times vary, but the park should generally be open by 9 am. The park will be locked up in the evening, refer to the information boards next to the gates to avoid embarrassing situations.

A Short History of the Park:

Originally reserved exclusively for the residents of the Georgian Merrion Square (laid out in 1762), the park served as a refuge for famine victims in the 19th century. Later it came into the possession of the Catholic church, this was in the 1920s. The original plan of the Church for this prime piece of real estate ... was to build a cathedral on the grounds. But these (maybe too) ambitious plans never came to fruition, and in 1974 Archbishop Ryan presented the park to the City of Dublin.

What can I Expect in Archbishop Ryan Park?

The park is formal and laid out in a clear design - it is nearly impossible to get lost here. Contained within the park are a large number of monuments, from the chair dedicated to comedian Dermot Morgan ("Father Ted") to the multi-coloured statue of Oscar Wilde reclining on a rock (affectionately dubbed "The Fag on the Crag" by Dubliners).

One monument is not obvious and sometimes puzzling visitors: A raised area of grassland in the south-eastern corner is not an ancient burial site, a disused air-raid shelter is buried underneath it.

There is a children's playground in the north-western corner, otherwise the park seems to be the domain of urban white-collar workers taking a break. Take time to enjoy the Georgian houses on Merrion Square proper. And on weekends, stroll along the railings and admire the paintings offered for sale.

Is Archbishop Ryan Park Secure?

Generally yes - some (nearly always harmless) street-people may occasionally frequent the fringes and dense shrubbery.

Food and Drink in Archbishop Ryan Park:

There is none - but the streets around Merrion Square provide plenty of opportunity to grab a sandwich and coffee.

03 of 09

Blessington Street Basin

The Blessington Street Basin - hidden away, but a good spot to get some air.

Bernd Biege

The Blessington Street Basin in a Nutshell:

A quiet area in the middle of the metropolis, created around a disused water reservoir - worth seeking out if you are in the vicinity.

Where do I Find the Blessington Street Basin?

This small park is hidden away between Royal Canal Bank and Berkeley Street near the Mater Hospital.

How do I get to Blessington Street Basin?

The easiest way would be via Blessington Street, no real surprise here. Blessington Street branches off Berkeley Street, used by several bus lines. It also is an easy walk from O'Connell Street, if you know where you are going.

When is Blessington Street Basin Open?

Generally during daylight hours - expect the park to be open by 9 am and check the noticeboard near the entrance for current closing times.

A Short History of the Park:

Originally this was a purely utilitarian amenity, built in 1810 - replenished with water from the Royal Canal, it was part of the Dublin water supply. In later years the basin was used exclusively to store water for the Jameson's Distillery, starting in 1868. Then Jameson's moved out of Dublin during the 1970s and the Blessington Street Basin fell into disuse and disrepair.

In recent years the council decided to dredge the basin (finding a veritable goldmine of shopping trolleys) and redevelop the area as a small park for the local population, opening it officially in 1994.

What to Expect at the Blessington Street Basin?

Not much - except sudden and unexpected peace and quiet, just a few minutes' walk away from Dublin's busiest streets. Pleasant walks around the old basin are the main attraction.

Is this Park Secure?

Generally yes - but local drug problems and a nearby methadone therapy centre may lead to the odd, very rare, and most of the time uneventful encounter with a disoriented person.

Food and Drink at the Blessington Street Basin:

None - but several shops in nearby Berkeley Street can supply an instant "packed lunch".

04 of 09

Dubh Linn Gardens at Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle in Ireland

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto 

The Dubh Linn Gardens in a Nutshell:

A park not many people know about - hidden behind Dublin Castle, doubling as a helicopter landing site, and rarely visited in itself by tourists and locals alike. But popular with the lunchtime crowd from the surrounding offices.

Where Do I Find the Dubh Linn Gardens?

Virtually hidden between Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library, just south of Dame Street. Easiest access is from Dame Street through the castle grounds.

How Do I Get to the Dubh Linn Gardens?

Many buses stop near Dublin Castle, as do most tour buses.

What are the Opening Times for the Dubh Linn Gardens?

Daylight hours - but the area is occasionally closed to facilitate major events.

A Short History of the Park:

This is the original place of the dubh linn, the dark pool. Where you stroll around the gardens today, in ancient times the river Dodder made a pool before flowing into the Liffey. Here the Vikings decided to settle. The Dodder today is a memory and has long been confined to a subterranean canal (or sewer). Only recently developed into formal gardens, the area is now a multi-purpose part of the castle grounds.

What to Expect at the Dubh Linn Gardens?

Most visitors are taken in with the colourful and bold artworks scattered around the garden - ceramic tiles at the bird bath, a giant glass snake, the memorial to the 2003 Special Olympics, the memorial to police killed in the line of duty. Take your time to walk around and explore. you will then also discover the bust of campaigning (and murdered) journalist Veronica Guerin, immortalised by Cate Blanchett in the film "Veronica Guerin".

The central area of the gardens is surrounded by wooden benches, these used to sport a low-key Ogham design (Ogham being the ancient Irish system of writing) - though dring renovation work this charming detail was lost. Still intact, however, is another "Celtic" touch - the grassy middle part is interrupted by a knot design formed by paving stones. This is only really visible from the air (or from the roof garden of the Chester Beatty Library) - and actually is used as a helicopter landing pad on occasion.

Are the Dubh Linn Gardens Secure?

Yes, a Garda station is right next to the park, casting a watchful eye over all the castle area.

Food and Drink in the Dubh Linn Gardens:

The excellent Silk Road Café can be found in the Chester Beatty Library, just outside the gardens - otherwise bring your own from the numerous shops in Dame Street.

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square

Dublin's Garden of Remembrance

Bernd Biege

The Garden of Remembrance in a Nutshell:

An oasis of peace and an opportunity for contemplation in the middle of Dublin's notoriously busy Northside - and a tribute to all those who fought and died for Irish freedom.

Where Will I Find the Garden of Remembrance?

Directly in the middle of Parnell Square, north of the Rotunda Hospital and opposite the landmark Abbey Church.

How do I get to the Garden of Remembrance?

Nearly all buses serving Dublin's Northside stop at Parnell Square, as do Bus Eireann coaches and most tour buses. Or you simply take a very short stroll from the top of O'Connell Street.

When is the Garden of Remembrance Open?

Roughly during office hours - the gardens and the massive statue of the Children of Lír are visible through the gates when the park is closed.

A Short History of the Park:

The gardens were planned and erected in the 1960s to commemorate all those who fought and dies for Irish freedom. This could be seen as the central memorial to the struggle for Irish independence. Some redevelopment in recent years has left the garden mainly intact.

What can I Expect in the Garden of Remembrance?

The layout is very formal and dominated by man-made features, (tamed) nature providing some background only. Upon entering you will notice a water feature laid out in the form of a Latin cross, contained within a sunken portion of the gardens. Due to a tiled floor this has a certain swimming-pool-like appearance.

Part of the floor is given to a (repeated) design featuring "Celtic" weapons - alluding to the Celtic custom of throwing weapons (or representations of them) into streams and lakes as offerings.

At the head of the cross, a large bronze sculpture represents the Children of Lír, being magically converted into swans - an image taken straight from Irish mythology.

Is the Garden of Remembrance Secure?

Yes, especially since there are no hidden nooks and crannies.

Food and Drink at the Garden of Remembrance:

None - but there are literally dozens of cafés, pubs, and restaurants, as well as shops selling sandwiches and coffee in the area. Nearby Moore Street can provide Chinese food, Parnell Street East Korean cuisine.

06 of 09

Iveagh Gardens

Iveagh Gardens in Dublin, Ireland

 TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

Iveagh Gardens in a Nutshell:

A truly hidden gem, and seldom discovered by tourist and local alike - quieter than other Dublin parks, even though the Iveagh Gardens are used for more and more events recently.

Where Will I Find the Iveagh Gardens?

The Iveagh Gardens are well hidden right in the centre of Dublin - even locals do not know how to find them ... or are even aware of their existence. They are just south of St. Stephen's Green and the easiest access is via Harcourt Street and the short Clonmel Street. A small sign next to a gate indicates the way.

How Do I Get to the Iveagh Gardens?

Being about three minutes walk away from St. Stephen's Green, they are well served by bus lines, the LUAS, and tour buses.

When are the Iveagh Gardens Open?

Daylight hours, see the signs on the gate for detailed information.

A Short History of the Park:

Originally a private park, the by now totally enclosed land was opened to the public only fairly recently. Well cared for, it sports some monumental fragments ... whose origins are virtually unknown.

What to Expect at the Iveagh Gardens?

A smallish, landscaped park in an enclosed area - made more interesting by some old trees, a sunken archery range, fountains, and the remnants of some monumental artworks. Greek (or possible Roman) gods lurk in the foliage.

None of this is truly spectacular, but the overall impression is very pleasing and the secluded nature makes the gardens ideal for a "breather". For some visitors the back of the Georgian buildings are an attraction of their own - spot multiple-level additions and typical period details.

Is the Park Secure?

Generally yes, though some people hanging around may seem to have an agenda of their own.

Food and Drink in the Iveagh Gardens:

None is directly available, but the surrounding area is well served by cafés, shops, and restaurants.

07 of 09

Saint Audoen's Park

Dublin's city walls - bordering St. Audoen's Park.

Bernd Biege

Saint Audoen's Park in a Nutshell:

A rarely visited park - though the park lies in plain view, the entrances are slightly hidden. A good place to take a rest after visiting the cathedrals.

Where Will I Find St. Audoen's Park?

It is north of High Street, west of historic St. Audoen's church.

How do I get to St. Audoen's Park?

Bus lines run past the park, get off the bus anywhere near Cornmarket. If you are using a hop-on-hop-off tour, Christ Church Cathedral would be the nearest stop. If you are coming on foot from the Liffey or the Four Courts (LUAS station), use Winetavern Street and Cook Street, entering the park through the old city gate.

When is St. Audoen's Park Open?

Broadly speaking during daylight hours.

A Short History of the Park:

This basically was wasteland, created after the realigning of Dublin's main traffic arteries, thenredeveloped into a small park as a local amenity.

What can I Expect in St. Audoen's Park?

Lawns, benches, shrubbery - and the old city walls plus St. Audoen's church giving this area a certain medieval feeling. Until a passing truck reminds you of reality.

Is the Park Secure?

Well ... yes, but on several visits I encountered slightly disoriented persons that seemed to be under the influence of mind-altering substances. Try to avoid contact and do not get into discussions, even less arguments.

Food and Drink in St. Audoen's Park:

Several shops in the vicinity can provide sandwiches and coffee.

08 of 09

Saint Patrick's Park

Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, seen from Saint Patrick's Park.

Bernd Biege

Saint Patrick's Park in a Nutshell:

Just the place to take a breather after visiting St. Patrick's Cathedral. Because it is next to the massive edifice.

Where Will I Find St. Patrick's Park?

Just north of St. Patrick's Cathedral, it is the large, open space right beside the church.

How do I get to St. Patrick's Park?

Both bus lines and tour buses stop at or near St. Patrick's Cathedral regularly.

When is St. Patrick's Park Open?

Generally during daylight hours.

A Short History of the Park:

Long part of the slums near the cathedral (the old "Liberties"), the grounds were redeveloped as parkland in the 19th and 20th century. Lord Iveagh had the slum housing torn down in 1897 and created a park, mainly to serve as an amenity for the social housing erected in the area. The park was taken over by the Dublin Corporation in the 1920s.

What can I Expect in St. Patrick's Park?

Mainly a space to rest and contemplate - nothing more, despite some artworks in the grounds. Take note of the "Liberty Bell" and the "Sentinel". Both echo the church connection, but are by and large unspectacular. Also found nearby is the "Literary Parade", a monument to Irish writers from Swift to Beckett. It still is a good way to enjoy a few minutes, with the cathedral on one side and the historic Iveagh Buildings on the other. Unfortunately also with massive traffic passing close by, making quiet contemplation quite a piece of work.

Is the Park Secure?


Food and Drink in St. Patrick's Park:

Bring your own or buy coffee and sandwiches at local shops.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Saint Stephen's Green

St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, Ireland

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto 

Saint Stephen's Green in a Nutshell:

The front lawn on which Dublin's office workers and clerks relax during lunch hour - and maybe the true centre of Dublin. No visit to Dublin would be complete without a stroll through it.

Where Will I Find St. Stephen's Green?

Right in the middle of Dublin, at the southern end of Grafton Street - just ask anybody for the way to "the Green".

How do I get to St. Stephen's Green?

Buses, tours and the LUAS stop at St. Stephen's Green, Pearse Street DART-station is about ten to fifteen minutes walk away.

When is St. Stephen's Green Open?

Roughly during daylight hours - starting around 9 am at the latest. Locking up is undertaken according to a seasonal schedule, this is posted next to the entrance gates. Avoid being locked in, it can happen due to the many nooks and crannies of the park.

A Short History of the Park:

You wouldn't notice today, but "The Green" started off as a common, used to graze animals, to tuck away a leper colony, and to facilitate the odd public execution. Only in the latter half of the 17th century did houses go up around the area. Which led to the former common becoming private grounds, to be used by residents only. Mainly for parading in their Sunday best.

In 1880 Arthur Edward Guinness, later Lord Ardilaun, made the park accessible for the general public, creating a Victorian showpiece. In a less inspired move, the Irish Citizens Army decided that the park was a viable military objective during the Easter Rising.

What can I Expect in St. Stephen's Green?

A Victorian landscaped garden, made for promenading - lawns seemingly mown every five minutes, flower displays as formal as a Victorian reception, clean and level walkways to stroll on leidurely, and those delightful little buildings. Including a bandstand, a pavilion, a stone bridge and the mock-Tudor groundskeeper's lodge. Plus the grandiose Fusilier's Arch and the thoroughly modern Wolfe Tone memorial - called "Tonehenge" by Dubliners. Look and you'll understand.

Dotted around the park are countless memorials, including one to Countess Markiewicz (who occupied the Green with the Irish Citizens Army during the Easter Rising. Nearly hidden away is an installation in honour of William Butler Yeats (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923), created by Henry Moore.

Is the Park Secure?

Yes - actually even more so if you are a duck ... fire was halted during the Easter Rising to facilitate the groundskeeper feeding the ducks.

Food and Drink in St. Stephen's Green:

There are plenty of eateries, cafés, and pubs in the vicinity, but most people grab a sandwich and a coffee for a lunch break in the Green.