Extending more than 1,752 acres in area, few cities can lay claim to a breathing space quite like Dublin's Phoenix Park. The largest urban park in Europe and one of the most impressive legacies of our Georgian Heritage, the Phoenix Park contains a number of stately homes, including the official residencies of the President of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin and the residency of the US Ambassador.
The Phoenix Park is also home to a large herd of fallow deer. The deer have been present in the park since the 17th Century when they were hunted for sport by the gentry of the day.
Phoenix Park is open to the public all year round. Contained within the grounds are a number of sports fields and there are also a number of cycle and walking routes through the park. The park also houses Dublin Zoo reputed to be the fourth oldest zoo in the world.
The Phoenix Park is only 1.5 miles from O'Connell Street. Both passive and active recreational pursuits may be viewed or pursued such as walking, running, polo, cricket, hurling, etc. The Glen Pond is set in very scenic surrounds in the Furry Glen. There are many walks and cycle routes available to the public.
Sites of the Park
Áras an Uachtaráin
Now the Residence of the President of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin, started as a modest brick house for the Phoenix Park Chief Ranger in 1751. It was subsequently acquired as an "occasional residence" for the Lords Lieutenants and gradually evolved to a large mansion. After Ireland gained independence, it was occupied by three Governors General between 1922 and 1937, prior to the first president Dr Douglas Hyde taking up residence there. Guided Tours available.
Dublin Zoo is one of Dublin's main attractions. It houses more than 700 animals and tropical birds from around the world and was founded in 1830 and opened to the public on 1 September 1831, with animals from the London Society, making it the third oldest zoo in the world. Within a year the zoo housed 123 species.
The Papal Cross was erected at the edge of Fifteen Acres for the visit of Pope John Paul II on 29 September 1979. Over one million people attended an open air mass in the park at the time. The white cross, which dominates its surroundings, is 35 metres high and was built with steel girders. It was installed with some difficulty: after several attempts, the cross was eventually erected just a fortnight before the Pope arrived.
The Wellington Monument is a 62 metres tall obelisk commemorating the victories of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. It is the largest obelisk in Europe and would have been even higher if the publicly subscribed funding had not run out. Designed by Robert Smirke, there are four bronze plaques cast from cannons captured at the Battle of Waterloo—three of which have pictorial representations of Wellington's career while the fourth has an inscription at the base of the obelisk. A second notable monument is the "Phoenix Column", a Corinthian column carved from Portland Stone located centrally on Chesterfield Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the Park, at the junction of Acres Road and The Phoenix, the main entrance to Áras an Uachtaráin.
The Deerfield Residence, originally built in 1774 was the former residence of the Chief Secretary for Ireland and before that was the Park Bailiff's lodge. It has been the official residence of the United States Ambassador to Ireland since 1927.
Phoenix Park Visitor Centre & Ashtown Castle
The oldest building in the park is Ashtown Castle, a restored medieval tower house dating from the 15th century. Restoration began in 1989 and it is located beside the Visitor Centre which houses interpretive displays on the 5,500 years of park and area history.
The Gardens, located close to the Parkgate Street entrance, comprise an area of 9 hectares, and were re-opened in 1864. These gardens were initially established in 1840 as the Promenade Grounds. They display Victorian horticulture, including ornamental lakes, children's playground, picnic area and bedding schemes. A statue is in the gardens dedicated to executed Easter Rising leader Seán Heuston. There is a plaque in honour of the Irish sculptor Jerome Connor on Infirmary Road, overlooking the Garden's which he frequently visited.
The Magazine Fort in the south east of the Park marks the location where Phoenix Lodge was built by Sir Edward Fisher in 1611. In 1734 the house was knocked down when the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset directed that a powder magazine be provided for Dublin. An additional wing was added to the fort in 1801 for troops. It was the scene of the Christmas Raid in 1939.