Dublin’s Secret Gardens: The Iveagh Gardens

iveagh gardens dublin

Hello from the Enterprise to Belfast!

A shiny train with brand new, purple upholstery. This is what the inside of a grape must look like. I love taking the train and with some planning, it is cheaper and more convenient than driving (GBP20 for this return ticket).

In fact, I’ve  just unrolled the beef sandwich my husband packed me for lunch. I can taste the loves in every bite. Nom, nom, nom.

Tiernan and I have spent the weekend visiting friends in their amazing inner city apartment in Dublin. A series of fortunate circumstances meant they got a brilliant place on easy terms. The luxury of a spare room allowed them to host us for three board-game and wine filled nights! We also got to meet their new addition – a silly grey kitten named Earl.

Our main mission was to visit the Immigration Office in Dublin and find out a thing or two about getting a spouse visa. Although that place is notorious for long waits, we only had to dedicate two and a half hours to the exercise. This left the afternoon at our disposal, so we decided to take an extended walk around Dublin’s inner city south.

Detour to the Iveagh Gardens

I remembered Cory at Five Suitcases mentioning in one of his early blogs about how he liked the Iveagh Gardens, a park I had never been to. That is probably quite shocking to you after a total of three years on and off in Ireland. Turns out I am not as much of an ambler as I like to think I am, so Dublin’s Secret Gardens escaped me.

Tiernan was all “Oh yeah, I know that place.” So he lead the way through Merrion Square and the east shoulder of St Stephen’s Green to the National Concert Hall. We puddle stepped our way down the stairs of the Hatch Street Upper entrance and I first thought, “Great, another plastic bottle cap park.” After walking past the sleeping rose beds the paths opened up onto a series of lovely lawns and open green space.

iveagh gardens dublin

Now I see what there is to love about this garden (sans flowers since it’s too early for them). The holly walk channels you down towards the archery field (a sunken lawn). Other sights include a miniature version of the Hampton Court Maze and some beautiful statues placed around and amongst the landscape.

iveagh gardens dublin

holly walk iveagh gardens

Utterly private, high-walled gardens like this one are dotted throughout Dublin. They are a bit of a thing in England, too; gated or walled little havens and only residents have the keys to access them.

The Iveagh Gardens, under various names, passed through many generations of Irish aristocrats. In the 18th Century they were the private gardens of John Scott, the 1st Earl of Clonmell. Clonmell was also known as “Copper Faced Jack” and the pub of that name stands on Harcourt Street today – a favourite of nurses and cops, I am told.  A subterranean passage brought the Earl from his home, Clonmell House, under the street to the garden. Thus he did not have to be bothered by the plebs while crossing the road.

iveagh gardens dublin

iveagh gardens dublin

Over the next hundred years the gardens found their way into the hands of the Guinness family. During this time they did a stint as a Winter Garden before being given to the Eamon de Valera led government on 17 May 1939.

Some how these gardens have miraculously remained green space in an ever developing Dublin. I plan to go back in the spring or summer when it will be easier to enjoy. It does, after all, have Ireland’s only purpose-built archery field!

iveagh gardens dublin

Has it ever taken you far to long to discover a place?


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