This sumptuous Victorian park, once the private delight of a wealthy Dublin elite, is today free to everyone.
- Beautiful flowers and charming"old world" garden features
- A delightful waterfall
- Visitor favourites include an angel fountain, a sun dial and a maze
- Minutes from Stephen's Green, an oasis from the city's hustle and bustle
- Secluded and usually not busy, even during summer months
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Many Dubliners have rarely, if ever, visited the Iveagh Gardens (pronounced "Ivy Gardens"). That may have something to do with its inconspicuous entrance -- tucked away on a little-known side-street called Clonmel Street.
What to See
A large, sunken lawn located near the Earlsfort Terrace entrance is Ireland's only purpose-built archery field. Little-known fact: Beneath this lawn lie the remains of an elephant from Dublin Zoo, which was buried there in 1922. The cascade or waterfall flows over an immense rockery, with rocks from each of Ireland's 32 counties -- not that you can tell by looking!
The maze is in fact a miniature copy of London's Hampton Court Maze.
- Statues and fountains
- Blooming Victorian rose garden flanked by two high rockeries
- Box hedge
- Working sun dial
- Leafy wooded areas
Dublin's Crystal Palace
In 1865, the park was the location for the Dublin Exhibition Palace and Winter Garden -- Dublin's version of London's Crystal Palace. The glass exhibition structures were demolished, but the large central stone building survives today as the The National Concert Hall, on nearby Earlsfort Terrace. Remnants of the Winter Garden buildings include the statues lining the path leading east from the rose garden, which were once inside glass structures on this site.
Great for Kids
While there is no park here, the gardens are usually quiet, and children generally enjoy getting to run around without bother. Older kids may enjoy the secret garden atmosphere.
Chic Events Venue
The Dublin Exhibition held here in the 19th century showcased the height of Victorian culture, and The Iveagh Gardens is once again earning a reputation for stylish events, including Music Concerts -- Tori Amos, Josh Ritter, Christy Moore, The Waterboys and others have performed here. Taste of Dublin -- Annual food sampling event, when the city's top restaurants provide tasters. Usually held in June. Vodafone Comedy Festival -- Annual open air comedy festival, with many stages and lots of comdeians. Previous acts have included John Bishop and Lee Mack.
In the 18th century, a rather unpleasant character named John (Jack) Scott, had a rags to riches journey. He became Ireland's Attorney General in 1777 and was given the title Earl of Clonmel in 1793. Scott had an unpleasant style of arguing, and was universally disliked. His tanned, growling demeanour earned him the nickname Copper-faced Jack. We were, nonetheless, rich. He built a house, now known as Clonmel House, on Harcourt Street. Behind the house, he had a large pleasure garden constructed, which ran parallel to St. Stephen's Green.
Extract from 1797 map of Dublin, showing Earl of Clonmel's Lawn, now Iveagh Gardens[/caption] Not wanting to have to mix with passers by on Harcourt Street, Copper-faced Jack built an underground tunnel that linked his house with his private park.
Famous Garden Designer
In 1863, the garden was acquired by a man called Benjamin Guinness -- a grandson of Arthur Guinness, who created the famous beverage -- after building a house nearby, at St. Stephen's Green. Benjamin hired renowned garden designer Ninian Niven, better known for his role as curator of the National Botanic Gardens. A Scotsman who innovatively blended English and French garden styles, Niven also added a Gothic touch to this park. The result is a mixture of elegance and eeriness, with handsome statues found in dark, ivy-strewn corners, and splendid fountains next to lonesome grottos.
How the Iveagh Gardens got their Name
Some people believe that "Iveagh" an old English way of spelling "Ivy". This is not true. One of the sons who grew up in the nearby Guinness home, Edward Guinness, became the first Earl of Iveagh. In 1908, Edward he donated the park to the newly established University College Dublin. During the 19th century, the park had been called the Coburg Gardens, after the British Royal Family of Saxe-Coburg. When UCD received it, the park was renamed Iveagh Gardens, in appreciation of the Earl's donation. The Guinness family home on Stephen's Green is today known as Iveagh House, and it houses the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
How to Get There
The easiest way to access the Iveagh Gardens is from Harcourt Street. Halfway along Harcourt Street, look out for the junction with Clonmel Street. Walk along Clonmel Street for a couple of minutes and you will arrive at the gate for the park. Harcourt Street is served by the tram system, the LUAS, being just one stop away from the bigger, busier park, St. Stephen's Green. Another entrance / exit can be found on Earlsfort Terrace.
Spring / Summer
- Monday to Saturday 8am-6pm
- Sunday 10am-6pm
Autumn / Winter
- During winter, the park closes earlier, due to reduced daylight hours (as soon daylight starts to fade, the park closes)
Tip: Give yourself about one hour to visit the whole park.
Admission to the Iveagh Gardens is FREE :)
- Waterfall / Cascade at the Iveagh Gardens. Image by William Murphy
- Park bench at the Iveagh Gardens. Image by William Murphy
- Maze at the Iveagh Gardens. Image by Sean O'Donnel
- Interior of the 1865 Dublin Exhibition. Image: National Library
- Decaying statues at the Iveagh Gardens. Image by Ana Rey
- 'Taste of Dublin' event at the Iveagh Gardens. Image by William Murphy
- Image: National Botanic Gardens