Dublin in the Rare Aul Times: The gorgeous green gardens of Dublin

by Lina Jans

For today’s edition, Lina explored the parks of Dublin — having been born at the English Garden in Munich, one of the largest parks in Europe, the bar was high for Dublin, but she wasn’t disappointed…

Merrion Square

Merrion Square is famous because Oscar Wilde lived here — you can visit his house and the statue of him in the Park, where he is laying on a rock.

In school, we read The Importance of Being Earnest. I remember finding his writing very humorous, but when I read about his life I learnt it was also very tragic, as he was tortured in prison because of his sexuality.

Sadly, his saying “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth”, applies to his own life in a way as he wasn’t able to live his life the way he wanted to, although he never made a secret of his relationships. 

Bono wrote this saying on one of the stone pillars where different lines of Wilde’s poetry are written on. I could also talk to Oscar Wilde on the phone — thanks to the “Talking Statues” Initiative of Dublin. It was really funny to hear him talk to me, but to be honest I hung up on him, because he just talked too much and didn’t even let me speak — but I still think he was a great fella as you’d say as a Dubliner, so no feelings hurt!

The buildings around the garden are all Gregorian style and seem like very fine houses.  I wondered how many dramas were influenced by the surrounding of Merrion Square Gardens and the people living there! 

St Stephen’s Green

This park is still my favourite of them all — I wrote about it in an earlier column of mine and just fell in love with it the first time I went there as I was sitting in the centre of the park between all the autumn coloured trees.

I love the pond with the ducks — especially after learning that during the War of Independence, a truce was held each afternoon so that the gardener could feed the ducks. The only downside of the park is that it is so popular, but a lot of people bring their picnic blankets.

Iveagh Gardens

I discovered this garden when there were no free benches in St Stephens Green one afternoon — this was the other nearest park, so I thought I would give it a go. And I was so lucky to have found it — the park is beautiful and without doubt rightly referred to as Dublin’s secret garden! 

When you walk in there’s a rondel with a garden with plants and benches- a garden in a garden so to say! Next to it, I found a labyrinth of bushes which I actually got lost in. The park has a memorial to honour the 3500 human rights defenders around the world that have been while doing their admirable work.

The garden was built in 1865 for the international Exhibition of Arts and Manufactures which attended almost a million visitors.  Between the statues of women which seem abstract because they miss an arm or a head, the newer statue of John Count Mc Cormack, with the engraving “world-famous tenor” somehow seemed misplaced.

However, he was an opera singer, so he fits perfectly into the park because it is just around the corner of the National Concert Hall, which used to be the expedition’s building.

Phoenix Park

This park is so big I didn’t even manage to see everything yet! I first walked to the Wellington monument which I could hardly overlook, as it is the highest obelisk in Europe!

The monument was built to honour Arthur Wellesley’s victories. I then walked to the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, which honour the 49.400 Irish soldiers that died in World War 1.  The memorial which also has a roundel of roses, is beautiful but at the same time leaves you feeling heavy because of the history behind it. I also went to the presidential residence — it looks a bit like the White House!

When Phoenix Park was built, it was a royal hunting park. I can really picture royals riding through the park on their horses to shoot deer, it seems like this kind of park. Sadly I didn’t see the deer but I will return for that!

I love the parks of Dublin and that many of them are an oasis to relax in the middle city — there’s so many more I loved like the Dubh Linn Garden or St Patrick’s Park. Dublin really is a green city! Even Munich, my home town, can’t completely keep up with that!

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