Rising with the Phoenix

 

THE Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed city park in Europe. I There are several fine buildings and monuments around the park, and this walk encompasses Aras an Uachtarain and Dublin Zoo. You also pass the Phoenix Column - a fanciful addition with no actual purpose. The "phoenix" is actually a corruption of "fionn uisce" which means "clear water". One of the features of the walk is the provision of oval plaques on metal posts which detail heritage features along the way. The circuit takes in the eastern half of the park, the part closest to the city centre.

. THE ROUTE

Several Dublin Bus services pass the main entrance to the park in Parkgate Street, not far from Heuston Railway Station, but only tour buses enter the park. Cars can usually be easily parked within the park.

Starting from the main entrance in Parkgate Street follow broad Chesterfield Avenue uphill, but almost immediately turn off to the right through the People's Garden. This was established in 1864 and there are many paths to choose between. Aim to keep to the left and stay high, walking roughly parallel to the main road, though keeping some distance away from it. The paths converge on a gateway near a statue of Sean Heuston, which overlooks a small lake.

Leave the gardens and cross straight over a road. A path runs down into a hollow known, appropriately, as The Hollow. Keep away from a bandstand shelter and climb towards an octagonal tea room. Take a break here, or turn right along a road which leads to the entrance to the Zoological Gardens, Breaking off to explore the zoo is obviously going to take a couple of extra hours.

To continue the walk, follow the road to the next junction, facing the Garda Siochana Headquarters, and turn left along North Road. This road is sandwiched between the fence of the zoo and the tall park wall. McKee Barracks are on the right - founded as the Marlborough Cavalry Barracks in 1888. To the left, a peep though the fence of the zoo might reveal the elephant enclosure. Further along the road, an exit to the right leads through the park wall to the Grangegorman Military Cemetery, established in 1878. The remains of soldiers killed in the first World War and the Easter Rising are buried here.

Stay in the park to follow North Road past Laundry Lodge. Built in 1895, it is beside the tradesmen's entrance to Aras an Uachtarain.

You can see a pub, called the Hole in the Wall; you get to it, predictably, by passing through a hole in the park wall. The pub dates from the 1700s and is a popular watering hole for visitors to the Phoenix Park. If not dropping in, turn left off North Road, passing a "No Through Traffic" sign to follow Odd Lamp Road to the Phoenix Column at a junction of six roads. The monument dates from 1747, when the park was first opened to the public, and an imposing gateway to the left leads to Aras an Uachtarain. There is also access to the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre from the roundabout, and an exploration of this site is recommended, if possible, before attempting the walk.

Walk around the roundabout formed by the Phoenix Column and follow Acres Road - the road with a spur leading to the gatehouse of the American Ambassador's Residence. This house is called Deerfield and was built in 1776 for the Bailiff of Phoenix Park. Continue walking along Acres Road.

Turn left onto Khyber Road, which is signposted as "No Through Traffic." This road is flanked on the left by beeches and on the right by pines. A clear space allows a brief view leftwards to the distant white frontage of Aras an Uachtarain, before the road runs down into an enclosed valley with a small stream alongside.

Keep to the left at a couple of road junctions near Islandbridge Gate and follow Wellington Road towards the imposing Wellington Monument - a huge obelisk of granite. Walk towards it and look closely to spot the names of various military campaigns fought by the Duke of Wellington. Waterloo is the most famous, while others are barely remembered. The monument took over 30 years to construct from 1830 to 1861.

Continue across the grass to reach Chesterfield Avenue and turn right to walk beside it. There is a Ceremonial Tree Grove to see before the road leads hack through the main entrance onto Parkgate Street. There are frequent buses running back into the city centre.