St Stephen’s Green Dublin

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During our girls’  UK trip in 2017, one of the places on my “must see” list was St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. The gardener in me, fascinated with all growing things, longed to explore there.

Happily the rest of the group agreed to a leisurely stroll through the 22 acre green, located in central Dublin, Ireland.

St Stephen's Green Dublin title meme

History of St Stephen’s Green

Until the mid 1660s, a marsh occupied this area outside of Dublin. A leper colony existed here at that time, named for the nearby St Stephen’s Church.

In 1663 the land went into development with plots sold for houses. A wall surrounded the green as Georgian style homes went up around the perimeter.

By the end of the 1770s, the green provided a private park for the wealthy residents of the city. Access to the park remained restricted until 1877 when Parliament opened the green to the public.

Sir A.E. Guinness, a member of the Guinness brewing family, paid for the structuring of the green into its current form.

During the Easter Rising of 1916, a group of insurgents took up defensive positions within the green. More than 200 armed men in the park, and many more scattered throughout the city, attempted to end British rule and establish an independent Irish Republic. They failed, after six days, and almost 500 people died. However their actions led to an increase in support for Irish independence.

Bullets holes are still visible in the Fusilier’s Arch, at the entrance to the park.

St Stephen's Green Dublin underside of arch
Underside of the Fusilier’s Arch in St Stephen’s Green Dublin. There are bullet holes in this arch.

Sights to see in St Stephen’s Green

While strolling through this gorgeous park, the largest green space in Dublin, check out these interesting sights.

Braille Garden

In the northwest corner of the park, find the Braille Garden. This little garden, filled with fragrant plants that tolerate handling, makes use of braille signs to identify the flowers.

The Fusilier’s Arch

Mentioned above, the arch commemorates the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who fought during the Second Boer War. Erected in 1907, the arch forms the entrance to the park, at Grafton Street. The structure is modeled on the Arch of Titus, in Rome.

St Stephen's Green Dublin Fusilier's Arch
The Fusilier’s Arch, St Stephen’s Green Dublin.


Three Fates Fountain

This fountain inside the Leeson Street Gate was a gift from the Germans. The statue within the fountain is a thank you for Irish help to refugee children during WWII. At least 500 children found foster homes in Ireland, in a project called Operation Shamrock.

The Green Lake

Spanning the length of the green is an ornamental lake. A gazebo rests at one end and the O’Connell Bridge provides a great vantage point at the other end. The lake is home to a variety of water fowl, including beautiful swans.

St Stephen's Green Dublin water fowl
A variety of water fowl inhabits the lake in the green.

Bandstand and Playground

On the south side of the main garden circle is the bandstand. Workers and students gather here for lunch. During the summer music entertains park visitors as they picnic. A playground nearby entertains children of all ages.

Famine Memorial

There are many statues and works of art throughout the green. One of the most touching is the Famine Memorial. Created by Edward Delaney, in 1967, the haunting abstract sculptures memorialize the Great Famine of 1845 – 1850. Eventually referred to as the Irish Potato Famine, during this time of mass starvation one million people died and another two million immigrated. Ireland’s population fell by 20% – 25%, creating a century long decline that the country never completely recovered from.

St Stephen's Green Dublin famine memorial
The Famine Memorial, St Stephen’s Green Dublin.

Places to Visit Near St Stephen’s Green

While in the area, check out these nearby attractions:

Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, located on the west side of the green, is one of Ireland’s largest shopping centers. Built in 1988, the style resembles a conservatory.

Little Museum of Dublin, on the north side of the green, is housed in a restored Georgian townhouse. The museum chronicles Dublin’s history during the 20th century, including the Easter Rising. Enjoy a meal in the famous cafe, Hatch & Sons Irish Kitchen, located in the basement.

And the historic Shelbourne Hotel is on the north side as well. Currently operating as a Marriot International Hotel, the Shelbourne has been at the center of Dublin’s social and cultural life for 200 years. Enjoy an elegant afternoon tea here.

St Stephen's Green Dublin pathways
Pathways loop around St Stephen’s Green Dublin.

Exceeding Expectations

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in St Stephen’s Green. Tree lined pathways circle the park, making it easy to navigate. I loved this vibrant green space with its flower gardens, sculptures, play areas and lake.

The green is well worth a visit, for a change of pace from the bustling city and for its natural setting, art and historical value.

Months before our girls’ trip, I planned out a visit to this park, studying maps and reviews and reading articles. That’s part of the fun of traveling, planning and anticipation.

The reality of visiting the park surpassed my expectations. St Stephen’s is a true gem in Dublin, and a green one at that!

St Stephen's Green Dublin girls trip
O’Connell’s Bridge by the lake provides the perfect photo op.

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Irish Blessings

After a long and restorative sleep, I spent the day exploring Dublin with my traveling companions. This international girls’ trip is proving to be extraordinary. We are enjoying this time of being together and learning new things.

Making use of the convenient hop on/hop off tour bus, we wound through the city again, hopping off at various locations to further our knowledge and appreciation of Ireland’s capital city.

Here are highlights of our fun day:

We crossed a bridge over the River Liffey, which winds through Dublin to empty into the bay.

One of the most well known pubs in Dublin, The Temple Bar. It was too crowded inside to dine there but a least we found it! I enjoyed wearing my No Regrets t shirt from Solgave Clothing in Dublin today.

People are very friendly here!

Linda found her leprechaun!

We had a wonderful lunch at Quays. Mom and I have not had any problems eating plant based, I’m happy to say! We both enjoyed veggies and rice and a hot peppermint tea.

I LOVED St Stephen’s Green, a 22 acre park in the center of Dublin. My gardener’s heart was right at home here as we wandered the paths through this beautiful green space.

The day’s selfie was taken on the stone bridge in St Stephens Green. This became a daily tradition that I started when Dayan, Elissa and I traveled to Italy earlier in the year. I change my Facebook profile pic and my cover photo everyday, by capturing a snapshot of the day. With five of us to get in the photo, we are relying on the kindness of strangers to take a pic for us!

Busy Grafton Street and the area surrounding it is the shopping center of the city. We loved the lively energy here as we joined thousands of other shoppers and tourists wandering around.

I love Dublin’s colorful front doors!

More sad sculptures depicting the Irish Potato Famine.

We had an incredible day. There was more that we wanted to do and see, however we simply ran out of time. Tomorrow we fly out of Dublin, and land in Edinburgh.

There is no other possible decision to make about it…we must plan another trip to Ireland! May the road rise up to meet us…and may the journey lead us back to Ireland.

St Stephens Green 20 Things to Do in 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!