Follow the signs to “Faiche Stiabhna”, as the Irish call St. Stephen’s Green, for an inner-city oasis. Admire the Victorian buildings, play soccer, throw a frisbee, watch people, jog, feed the ducks, doze or have a picnic in this popular Dublin park. You could also bring a novel written by one of Dublin’s great authors and read it at the very spot where they found their inspiration!
St. Stephens’ Green was once a common grazing ground that was enclosed and reserved for the elite in 1664. Not until two centuries later was the large square reopened to the public, with significant help from Sir Arthur Guinness. The beer magnate’s statue, with the title Baron Ardilaun, commemorates his generosity. The nine-hectare (22-acre) park thanks its current landscaping to those Victorian times.
An incident in this park in 1904 was the basis for the famous novel Ulysses by James Joyce. Dublin-born Joyce got into a fight in the park and was later tended to by a man who was the inspiration for one of the characters in the story. The author’s bust is displayed in the center of the park.
If you want to picnic, pick up sandwiches and treats at one of the delis on nearby Baggot Street. For a grand entrance, access the park under the Fusilier’s Arch, which looks like a structure from ancient Rome but was actually completed in 1907. The fountain and gardener’s cottage bandstand and kiosk are all actually older (from the 1800s). Pause at the Great Famine memorial, a compelling sculpture dedicated to the years of starvation the Irish experienced from 1845 to 1850.
Several shelters around the park will protect you from the sun or, more likely, rain drops. There is a children’s park on the east side and, at the park’s center, a garden for the blind provides braille signage and plants sturdy enough to freely touch.
The park is located at the top of commercial Grafton Street. Most city center bus routes pass the park. Or, take Dublin’s hop-on, hop-off bus tour. Note that alcohol is not allowed and that the gardens close after dark.