Saint Anne's is a beautiful and popular, sprawling park situated between the suburbs of Raheny and Clontarf on the north side of Dublin. This gorgeous, romantic park is impeccably kept, and is particularly beautiful during the months of autumn.
- Once part of the Guinness family estate -- bought by the city in 1937
- A huge park with many woodland trails and a large duck pond
- 35 sports fields, 18 tennis courts and a golf course
- Popular with joggers and cyclists
- Walled rose gardens and Victorian garden follies
- Large native plant collection and abundant wildlife
- Children's playground
- Each Saturday sees a farmers food market
- A cafe is located within the park
Saint Anne’s offers woodland paths popular with both walkers and joggers, and the park is heavily used by the public. The park is situated quite near to the northern coast of Dublin Bay and the Chestnut Pathway, which runs parallel to the Coast Road, is the most popular route taken by joggers, walkers and cyclists.
The playground at St. Anne's is suitable for children from two years old upwards. It features two multi play units, slides, springers, swings and climbing frames . The playground also features a wooden play area, with cute items such as a wooden train, a wooden horse & cart, and wooden animals.
Model Car Track
The model car track, located on the Raheny side of the park, is a purpose-built track for remote-controlled cars! A local enthusiasts club holds races there on certain dates. The track is fun for kids just to go and see, and manually wheel their toy cars along.
On any given weekend, the park is filled with members of the public, enjoying its 35 playing pitches, 18 hard surface tennis courts, and its par-3 golf course.
St. Anne's also features an abundant selection of wildlife such as badgers, hedgehogs, rabbits, fox and grey squirrels. Bird species seen regularly at the park include sparrows, hawk, woodcock, and jay, and a variety of bee and butterfly species can be spotted.
In 1975, the now famous St. Anne's Rose Garden was open to the public. Today the annual July Rose Festival is held here and its notoriety has helped it to become the centre for international rose trials.
St. Anne's is known for its Victorian garden follies -- many, unfortunately, now in poor a state of disrepair. There are ten decorative garden statues in all, located around the Naniken River which flows through the park. They include a Herculanean Temple, a Pompeian Water Temple of Isis, St. Anne's Wall, a Hermitage Bridge, and a Roman style viewing tower.
Other Garden Features
The expansive garden areas include a fruit garden and a 12-acre plant nursery for the Park Department, where thousands of budding plants, shrubs, and trees are produced annually.
Since 2009, public allotment gardens have been provided to city residents on a lottery basis for the purpose of growing produce.
There is a seasonal Saturday farmer’s market located in the courtyard of the stable area, where you will also find a cafe.
In 1835, Benjamin Lee Guinness purchased the 500-acre Vernon estate and set up his family home in Thornhill, a 17th century Georgian house. He renamed the home St. Anne's in honour of the blessed well that was located on the property, which legend held was blessed by Saint Anne during the early days of Christianity. Over the centuries, this holy well evolved into a popular place of pilgrimage and veneration. Eventually, it became overrun with brush and was neglected due to the prevailing Protestant ethic, which regarded such sites as places that fueled pagan superstition.
Sir Arthur Edward Guinness (Lord Ardilaun) inherited the estate in 1868 and was the person primarily responsible for expanding and developing the estate and the gardens. He enhanced the grounds through the incorporation of follies, bridges, a walled garden, shrubbery, and a variety of new flora. Lord Ardilaun lined the estate's boundaries with evergreen and pine trees, while Lady Ardilaun concentrated on developing the gardens in French chateau style with some Victorian influence.
The Modern St. Anne's Park is Created
The estate was passed on to a nephew who sold it to Dublin Corporation (now Dublin City Council) in 1937. Some of the area was used for public housing, while a larger, more attractive tract was set aside for use as public parkland -- the St. Anne's Park of today. During World War II, the residents were encouraged to grow vegetables in allotment gardens on the estate. Since the acquisition, the rose garden, miniature rose garden, and Dublin's City Arboretum (with 1,000 varied trees) were added to the estate.
In recent years, Dublin City Council has undertaken restoration of the Naniken River to its natural state in order to make it a more favourable habitat for the wildlife and the plants there.
Rose gardens at St. Anne's Park. Image by William Murphy.