Phoenix Park, just west of center city in Dublin, is the largest city park in Europe. It contains approximately 1700 acres and is encircled by a wall that measures seven miles in length. The park measures more than twice the size of Central Park in New York City. The name Phoenix Park was derived in error from the Gaelic Fionn Uisce, pronouned Feeyun-Ishka which means "clear water". The source of this water is a natural spring near the park's central monument, the Phoenix Column, a tower that displays, coincidentally, a phoenix (bird) at its top. Phoenix Park was founded in 1662 as a refugee for deer herds by Lord Ormonde, and some of the descendants of those original residents can still be seen there today. Lord Chesterfield made the park available to the public in 1745.
More Things to See in the Phoenix Park
In addition to the Phoenix Column, other monuments in the park include:
- The Wellington testimonial, a 200 foot obelisk with unique bronze bas reliefs (made from French cannons) completed in 1861. It honors the Irish general who helped defeat Napoleon and commemorates the Battle of Waterloo.
- The Papal Cross, a 90 foot high steel cross that was erected at the site of the 1979 papal mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II, attended by one million people.
- Aras an Uachtaiain (the Irish White House), built in 1751 as a residence for the English viceroys. Since 1937, the building has served as the home of the Irish president. Free tours are provided to 525 people each Saturday.
- The U.S. Ambassador's residence, Deerfield, can be found nearby. The building was made famous in 1882 when the chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Cavendish, and his undersecretary, T.H. Burke, were murdered there by the Irish nationalist group, the The Invincibles.
- Ashtown Castle, an impeccably restored 17th century residence, now houses the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre.
- The People's Garden is a lush collection of flowers and plants that was first designed in 1864, and the main road through the park is 2 ½ mile long Chesterfield Avenue, attractively lined with old style gas lamps.
The park offers space for a variety of activities, such as horseback riding, Gaelic football, hurling - a sport that combines features of baseball, field hockey, and lacrosse - cycling and running trails, and polo. Near the entrance to Phoenix Park is Ryan's Pub, an original Victorian style pub whose furnishings have not been changed since 1896.