St Stephens Green -Dublin

Three weeks from today, I'll be in the air, flying to Dublin, Ireland. My sisters, mom, niece and I have been planning and anticipating this trip for a year. As always, that time does indeed pass. We are counting down the days until our adventure.

I've had a very full day, with back to back appointments. Coming in this evening, with more work to do on the computer, I suddenly realized I didn't know what I was going to be writing about tonight. Two things happened, after I had that thought, as I sat on the side of my bed.

Checking Facebook, I saw that my sister Linda had posted a pic of an Irish pub in Dublin, commenting that we are leaving in three weeks. And looking up from my phone, I saw the book 20 Things to Do in Dublin Before You Go for a Feckin' Pint on the bedside table. There it was, double inspiration.

I've enjoyed some downtime this evening, reading in the humorously written book and thinking about Ireland. Dublin will be our home base while we are in that country.

Must see site #7 is St Stephen's Green.

This 22 acre park is located in the heart of Dublin, at the top of Grafton Street. According to the book, you can't miss it…it's the big green thing with all the trees! We are staying in the heart of the city, so I hope for at least a stroll through this gorgeous park.

Although this green space is peaceful and filled with ponds, statues, flowers and trees, the history of this place is anything but serene. In the 13th century there was a leper colony in this swampy, boggy spot, associated with a nearby church, St Stephen's. By the 17th century the area was converted into a park and the plots surrounding it used for building palatial homes.

The park became popular as a place of public executions. Until the late 18th century, most of Dublin's executions took place here. Crowds would gather to watch the unfortunate law breaker receive his punishment…which eventually led to the residents in the area protesting. The park became a private garden for the wealthy home owners surrounding it. In 1877, the great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the brewery founder, bought the park and donated it back to the city.

The park enjoyed a time of peace until the 1916 Easter Rising, when rebels used the Green as one of their bases of operation. Trenches were dug and the greenhouse used as a first aid center, but after a day, British soldiers began firing on the rebels, driving them out. Bullet holes can be seen in the Fusiliers' Arch entrance. An aside to this event: both sides agreed to a brief ceasefire so that the park groundsman could feed the ducks!

The arch is the most popular entrance to the park. It was built in 1907 to commemorate the soldiers of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who fought for the British Army in the second Boer War.

Statues are scattered throughout the Green, including an artistic installation in honor of Irish poet WB Yeats. There's also one dedicated to Lord Ardilaun, who purchased the park and gave it to the city.

Other highlights in the park include the impressive facade of the Royal College of Surgeons, and the St Stephen's Shopping Centre, built to look like a conservatory.

There is also The Little Museum of Dublin, full of 20th century memorabilia, and one of Ireland's most famous hotels, the Shelbourne. Among the hotel's famous guests have been actors and actresses, authors, and John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie. The hotel features an equally famous pub, The Horseshoe Bar.

Reading about St Stephen's Green, including its colorful history, ramps up my anticipation for this city. This will be my first trip to Ireland…it is a first for all five of us…and I am excited to explore and discover and soak it all in.

Learning about some of Dublin's sites before I visit stirs a longing to see it all myself, and also creates a sense of familiarity when I do arrive. If we visit St Stephens Green, you can bet I will be checking the arch at the entrance for bullet holes!