Breathing Spaces - Dublin's Parks and Green Places

Printer-friendly version

Oscar Square, Dublin 8View Breathing Spaces - Dublin's Parks and Green Spaces Image Gallery.

In its earliest form, the park was land used for hunting wild animals. The Phoenix Park owes its origins to the Duke of Ormonde, who introduced deer onto the walled area he used for hunting during the mid-17th century. The word later came to signify  the enclosed land  around the homes of the wealthy, by definition an exclusive domain which only a privileged few could access. As time went on, the idea of the park as a public space emerged; the Georgian squares of Dublin were perhaps halfway between public and private space, as they were the preserve of the families who  lived in the houses surrounding the central square. Some of Dublin’s earliest parks were created this way, becoming, over time, more open to the ordinary citizens of Dublin. Several of our parks have dark beginnings, as burial places, or even, in the case of St Stephen’s Green, as a place of execution – a fact which adds a whole new dimension to the idea of the park as place of public entertainment.

By the end of the  19th century however, parks were seen as places that should be open to everybody. The philanthropists of the 19th century were firm believers in the wholesome effects of fresh air and contact with nature on the poor, and parks such as St Patrick’s Park are a direct  result of the works of such benefactors as Lord Iveagh. But by this stage city councils had also begun to take an active role in the creation of parks and green spaces for the population, and Dublin was no exception. The Parks Department in the City Council became very active in the 20th century in the creation of parks, and fine examples of their work include St Anne’s Park to the north of the city and Bushy Park to the south, both originally part of landed estates.

Many parks have changed in nature over the years and this gallery gives an idea of some of the changes that have taken place. Over time, the notion of a park has broadened to include a whole range of different functions and a strong awareness of the importance of biodiversity. The Bull Island Interpretative Centre, for example, is very far from what our 18th century forebears would have considered a park. Parks have become places of infinite variety and this gallery aims to give a sense of this variety. Although it does not include every park and green space in Dublin, we hope it will provide an introduction to those places were Dubliners can take a moment to enjoy nature and to relax.

View Breathing Spaces - Dublin's Parks and Green Spaces Image Gallery.

Thanks to Dublin City Council Parks Department.

Search and browse the Dublin City Photographic Collection online. This collection is an amalgam of photographs taken by City Council employees in the course of their work, including everything from civic events to street-cleaning. The bulk of the material dates from the 1980s and 1990s.

Add new comment