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The Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Everyone as a child has fond memories of having a good time in the Phoenix Park with their family. When I was a child my da used to bring myself and my brother to this place and we would spend hours running up the steps at the Monument. How could such a wonderful park be in the middle of Dublin? How could there be 1,750 acres that hasn’t been dug up and pave over with apartments?

The park’s territory was first given to monks who had sailed with the Normans on their conquest of Ireland years and years ago. The monks originally built their monastery at the Chapelizod gate. King Charles the 2nd gave the park territory to the Duke of Ormond so that he might establish a royal hunting ground. The ground already had deer and pheasant, so a wall was erected right around the park to stop any person or illegal hunters from trying to enter for their own game.

The park was originally a demesne of Kilmainham Priory, south of the Liffey but when they began to build the Royal hospital in 1680, the park was reduced to its present size of 1,750.00 acres. In the year of 1775 the park was opened up to the general public. In 1882 the park was a location to a double murder that was carried out by a group of Fenians calling themselves “The Invincibles”. The two men who were stabbed to death were Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke, a civil servant.

The park is split into three parishes, Castleknock and Chapelizod to the North West, and to the south of the Liffey our very own St James’s Parish. The president’s house or Aras an Uachtarain, which is located in this park was build in 1754. It was the official home to the Lord Lieutenant until the creation of the Free Irish State in 1922. Dublin Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world. It opened its doors to the public in September of 1831 using borrowed animals from London Zoo. Today it has and it’s one of the biggest Zoo’s in the world housing more than 700 different animals.

Papal Cross or the popes cross as we call it was built using steel girders, it’s 115 feet high (35 meters) high, this cross marks the spot when the late John Paul the 2nd said mass to over million people in 1979 when he visited. This cross can be seen from high points across the city and on a clear day it can be seen from the Dublin Mountains.

The Wellightion Monument is a 203 feet (62 meter) obelisk, it is the highest obelisk standing in Europe and it was created to mark the victories of Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington. It was designed by a Robert Smirke who originally planned for it to be bigger but the funds dried up. There are 4 bronze plates on each side of the monument each displaying engravings of his main victories. The material used for the bronze was actually taken from some of the cannons that were used in these battles. There are 2 other monuments located around the park along with the Dukes, the Phoenix Colum, which can be seen on the roundabout in the park. And a dark fluted column which is only 30 feet high and was put there by the Earl of Chesterfield.

The headquarters of the Irish Police, An Garda is also on the park grounds in fact it is next door to the zoo. The park which can also be used as music festivals’ has in the past played host to U2, Robbie Williams, Coldplay, Duran Duran, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name a few.

If you like to fly or watch model air craft been displayed why not join the Lenister Model Flying Club ( They fly and display airplanes and helicopters there, the club meets near the Chapelizad on a Wednesday evening, and on a Saturdays and a Sunday weather permitting from 11 am.

The park is huge and you would probably need a car to discover it all, or if you have a push bike it would be lovely to cycle, and best of all the park is free.

As you may have noticed that the park is 350 years old this year why not help them to celebrate it you can telephone them on Parkgate Dublin 8 on 01-820-5800 and they will give you any information on what you read and what you require.

Enjoy your time in the people’s park.

Fountain News DigitalThis article was originally published in:
Fountain News Digital – July 2012 (Issue 9)

We are re-publishing all articles from our past newsletter, Fountain News Digital, and you can view all completed newsletters here. There were nine issues published in total between 2010 and 2012.

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  1. […] tie in with the ‘Footsteps In Time’ article about the Phoenix Park in this edition, we thought might take a little visit to the […]

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