At the top of Grafton Street lies an idyllic escape from the noise and crowds of the city centre, the 22 acre St. Stephen’s Green park is filled with lush gardens, beautiful flower beds and a variety of sculptures and monuments. Having been enclosed in the seventeenth century the current formation of St. Stephen’s Green dates back to the year 1880. The Victorian park is a site of leisure and relaxation and is also a place to remember or to learn about significant people and events in Irish history. St. Stephen’s Green features a children’s playground, the large area was recently renovated and is a great place to keep children entertained. Another favourite of children visiting St. Stephen’s Green is to feed bread to the ducks in the park’s large lake. At the centre of the park there are two water fountains, the beautiful pieces both date back to 1880.
The park also features a garden for the visually impaired, the sensory garden contains scented flowers and plants which are labelled in Braille. In the summer there are free lunchtime concerts at the park’s Victorian bandstand which create a great atmosphere and are enjoyed by both locals and visitors to the city. The bandstand located on the south green is the perfect location to relax with an ice cream or cold drink on a warm summer afternoon. At the Grafton Street entrance to the park stands the memorial arch of Wicklow which was erected in 1907, the arch is more commonly known as the Fusilier’s Arch after members of the Royal Dublin Fusilier’s who died in the 1899 – 1900 Boer War. The magnificent arch features the names of the 212 men who fell during the war in South Africa. The arch is referred to as the ‘Traitors Gate” as members of the Dublin Fusiliers were fighting as a regiment of the British Army. St. Stephen’s Green is home to a statue of Theobald Wolfe Tone, the leader of the 1798 Rebellion against British rule in Ireland who is widely regarded as the father of Irish Republicanism. Surrounding the statue of Wolf Tone is the Famine Memorial, a semicircle of stone pillars commemorating the Great Famine of the mid-nineteenth century.
The park not only pays homage to historical Irish figures but the park itself was central to a significant event in Irish history. St. Stephen’s Green was a battleground during the 1916 Easter Rising in the struggle for Irish independence. During the Rising Irish rebels dug trenches along the perimeter of the park, and the park’s glasshouse was used as a First Aid station. The park houses a bust of Countess Markievicz who fought in St. Stephen’s Green, she eventually surrendered and was sentenced to death but this was lessened to life imprisonment because of her sex. However, Markievicz was released from Kilmainham Gaol and went on to be the first woman elected and to serve in Dáil Eireann. Bullet holes from the fighting during the Rising can still be found today on the Fusilier’s arch.
The city centre park also celebrates Ireland’s rich literary history with statues and monuments of great Irish literary figures. St. Stephen’s Green features a bust of Dublin writer James Joyce and a memorial garden featuring an abstract bronze statue for Irish poet W.B. Yeats. Whether you are in search of a relaxing afternoon to enjoy the beauty of the park and to catch some sun or if you’re looking to discover more about Irish history and significant Irish figures St. Stephen’s Green is the perfect location.