St Stephen's Green. Urban Park in Dublin, Ireland

St Stephen's Green

Urban Park in Dublin, Ireland

Swans in St. Stephen's Green Photo © Andrew Becraft

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St Stephen's Green

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The arch at Stephen's Green - St Stephen's Green
The arch at Stephen's Green - St Stephen's Green. Photo by unknown
St Stephen’s Green is the most well-known Victorian park in Ireland. This public park is located in the heart of Dublin at the end of Grafton Street, one of the city’s main pedestrian shopping streets. Adjacent to the park lies the St Stephen’s Green Shopping Center, and the surrounding streets are home to some of the public bodies of the city and country. The terminus of one of the Luas tram lines lie next to St Stephen’s Green.

This magnificent urban park has the shape of a rectangle and, covering 22 acres, it is also the largest of Dublin’s Georgian garden squares. Other similar parks are Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square (Wikipedia Article), both also located in the city center. The original Victorian layout has been maintained, including the wide perimeter of trees and shrubs, and the magnificent Victorian flowerbeds. Buildings in the park are the Victorian lakeside shelter and Victorian Swiss shelters near the center of the park. Additionally, there are 2.2 miles of walking paths, a children’s playground, sculptures, and extensive lawns.

St Stephen's
	Green - St Stephen's Green
St Stephen's Green - St Stephen's Green. Photo by Maria Antonietta

History

The site where St Stephen’s Green is now located was a marshland at the outskirts of Dublin until 1663. It was essentially being used as a common ground for cattle grazing. However, it was in 1663 that the Dublin Corporation enclosed the center of the common area and began selling the surrounding land for building. In 1664 the park was enclosed by a wall. Houses were being built, which were later replaced by new Georgian-style buildings. At the end of the 19th century, St Stephen’s Green was a place where the wealthier classes of Dublin came to relax and hang out. Not many of the buildings from that time have survived.

St Stephen’s Green was only accessible by local residents until 1877, when the British Parliament decided to open the park to the public. The initiative for this action came from Sir A.E. Guinness, member of the well-known brewing family. He also paid for the layout of the park, which it has kept until today. The new layout was opened in 1880. The city commissioned a statue of A.E. Guinness to thank him for giving the park to the people of Dublin.

The park has gone through three major renovations since it was created. The first change took place in 1670 when a line of trees was planted around the perimeter, essentially creating the first enclosure. Only wealthy residents who owned land around the park were allowed to access it at that time. St Stephen’s Green was redesigned in 1815 by city surveyor, Arthur Neville, who added iron fences and meandering walking paths. The park, however, was still closed to the public. The third major renovation happened in the course of the 1860s. In this decade there were plans to open the park to the public and the civil engineer, George Hemans, designed a new layout, which would make the park much more walkable and enjoyable. This design was rejected though, and a new one was created by William Sheppard. He designed St Stephen’s Green as it still is today. He was sponsored by Lord Ardilaun, also known under his real name A.E. Guinness.

St Stephen's Green - St Stephen's Green
St Stephen's Green - St Stephen's Green. Photo by Jorge Caballero Salillas

Visiting St Stephen’s Green

St Stephen’s Green lies in the center of Dublin and can be reached by the Luas, by bus, or by walking. Located at the end of Grafton Street, the park is easily accessible on foot from other parts of the city, such as Temple Bar. The park has four gates and is free to visit. It is particularly crowded around lunchtime and around 4PM-5PM when people go there to get some fresh air while eating lunch or enjoy some time outside after work before heading home.

The park consists of pleasant walking paths, large lawns, fountains, flowerbeds, lakes and ponds, and picnic areas. St Stephen’s Green’s largest lake is located in the north of the parks and is home to many ducks and other water birds. Features of this lake are a waterfall, gazebo, and the O’Connell bridge. The southern part of the park is made of lawns, benches, and a bandstand.

Highlights of St Stephen’s Green are the Fusiliers’ Arch at the corner of Grafton Street; the Three Fates fountain near the gate on Leeson Street, the statue of Lord Ardilaun; Yeats Memorial Garden, statue of James Joyce; a memorial of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, statue of Wolfe Tone; and a statue of Robert Emmet. Another interesting feature in the park is a garden for the blind in the northwest corner. This garden is made up of scented plants that can be touched and handled, and labels in Braille.

Similar Landmarks

St Stephen’s Green is one of three old commons greens in Dublin. The other two are Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square. Other parks in the city are Iveagh Gardens and massive Phoenix Park, the largest urban park in Europe.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Dec 27, 2014

Pictures of St Stephen's Green

Landscaping - St Stephen's Green
Landscaping - St Stephen's Green. Photo by unknown

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