Who would have thought that the leafiest suburb in Dublin is actually north of the Liffey? The Phoenix Park has got some serious leaves and some even more serious gaffs.
It was once a Royal Deer Park (because everyone knows royal deer can’t just live anywhere), but it's been open to the public since 1745 and is apparently the biggest walled park in any European capital.
If you want to you can stay on paths the entire way. Sure you know yourself.
It’s a good 10km loop, or thereabouts.
3/5 – easy-going but a decent walk due to the distance.
I’m going to assume you know where it is. 25, 26, 66 (a and b) 67 and 69 all drop to the gate, and more buses again drop you to the nearby Heuston Station. Heuston and Museum Luas stops (Red Line) are short walks.
You can park on the main avenue and it’s free.
We’re going to start at the Wellington Monument, which of course, commemorates the Duke of Wellington. He is famous for defeating Napoleon at Waterloo. Why is it here, you ask? Well it might have something to do with the fact that he was born in Dublin.
We are following the main avenue (Chesterfield Avenue) from here. Try to stick to the pedestrian path as opposed to the cycle lane, it’s nicer and you know, be sound. The path along the side of the road is a cycle path.
The avenue takes us up to the Phoenix Monument roundabout. Keep an eye out for Michael D. That’s his house on your right, and his neighbour is the American Ambassador.
We’re going to keep on along the avenue until the turn for Farmleigh House. It’s to the left and there’s a signpost so you can’t miss it.
Take a look at the Quarry Lake on your left just after the turn. It was once, unsurprisingly, used as a quarry. Directly opposite is the path to Farmleigh House.
While this is a detour out of the Phoenix Park proper it is well worth it. It plays host to visiting dignitaries from time to time and who could forget the EU enlargement ceremony in 2004! Not me.
If the end of the cold war doesn’t excite you the donkeys in Farmleigh might. Donkeys have a strong sense of attachment to each other and will actually mourn should one of their friends head off to the big field in the sky.
Hungry? Check out the Boathouse at Farmleigh. I defy you to resist the cake.
It’s a complete backtrack out of Farmleigh as far as the quarry pond. You now want to follow the road down to the Ordnance Survey office, where maps are born. Opposite their offices is a path that will lead back towards where we started.
You run out of paved road briefly and you have to skip through the woods to get to the trail that leads around the American Ambassador’s gaff.
As you come around the corner you will behold the 15 acres.
Almost one in three people in Ireland came to see Pope John Paul II say Mass here in 1979. A slightly smaller crowd came out to see the returning 2002 World Cup team. I won’t presume to tell you which event to cherish more dearly in your heart.
If you have time it’s worth continuing along through the trees rather than taking the avenue back at this point. You can cut back to Wellington through the Sports Ground.
The Wellington Monument and the Papal Cross represent a power shift in Irish history. Discuss.