Phoenix Park History

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If you’re planning a trip to Dublin, as a couple, group, family or a solo traveller, a visit to Phoenix Park should always be on your list. It’s much more than a green space close to Ashling Hotel in Dublin, it’s a treasured part of Irish history, folklore and culture. Phoenix Park is the largest walled park in Europe and is an astounding 700 hectares in area, not bad for such a small capital city! We think of Phoenix Park as the backyard of our 4-star hotel in Dublin as it’s less than 5-minutes walk from entrance to entrance. There are dozens of attractions ranging from the zoo and the wild deer to playgrounds and the home of the Irish President. Put a trip to this magnificent park on your list of things to do in Dublin.

Phoenix Park Magazine Fort

Phoenix Park is large enough to contain its own mini village! The Magazine Fort is a bastion fort and magazine located within the park, which served as an occasional arms depot for the British and later the Irish armies. Built in 1735, it was occupied by British Armed Forces until 1922 when it was turned over to the Irish Defence Forces after the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It was used to store gunpowder after the original gunpowder tower in Dublin Castle went on fire, sparking fears that an explosion could take out half the city. The fort rapidly became a thriving community, with soldiers, officers and their families all living and working in the 25 buildings within its walls. The fort remained in military use right up to the 1980s but has become increasingly derelict. There is a plan to renovate and restore the Magazine Fort, but works are yet to commence.

Deer in Phoenix Park

One of the main attractions of the park is the wild animals, and we’re not talking about those in the zoo! The park was originally formed as a royal hunting Park in the 1660s. It was opened to the public in 1747 and a large herd of wild fallow deer remain to this day. Although they are not native to Ireland, introduced by the Normans in 1244, but they are the most popular breed of deer in the country. The wild herd currently in the Park consists of approximately 600 deer, many of whom are descendants of the original herd. Visitors are requested not to feed the deer and to keep a distance of at least 50m, especially in rutting season; they are wild animals after all!

The Lamplighters of Phoenix Park

If you’re in the park in the evening, you’ll notice many of the roads have streetlamps, but they don’t give out the usual amount of light as streetlights. That’s because many of the lights are gas lamps, a unique feature of the park’s history that’s related to one family in particular The historic gas lamps were first installed in 1825, still exist and are used today. Up until the 1980s, each lamp had to be physically lit at dusk and quenched at dawn, a tradition passed down through generations of one family: the Flanagan’s. Lamplighters went from lamp to lamp on foot or by bicycle in all weather to light each individual lamp using a five-foot pole with a carbide torch at the end of it. They were later upgraded so they could be controlled automatically. Phoenix Park is one of the few remaining public areas in Europe that still relies on gas for its lighting.

Áras an Uachtaráin

Áras an Uachtaráin had a rich history before becoming the Official Residence of the President of Ireland. Built in 1751 the original house was built by Park Ranger Nathaniel Clements. By 1782 it was acquired by the Viceroys who oversaw British rule in Ireland. The house continued as the official residence of the Viceroys up to 1922 and in 1938 it became the Official Residence of the President of Ireland. Today, thousands of people visit the house as official guests at the many state and official functions hosted by the President. The house is open to the public each Saturday. It’s said that the Irish-born architect of the White House, James Hoban, took inspiration from Áras for his design.

The Park is also home to the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, Zoological Gardens, Victorian Flower Gardens, a Biodiversity Information Centre, Phoenix Café and Tea Rooms. Explore it for yourself when you book a stay in Ashling Hotel Dublin, a unique 4-star hotel in the heart of the city.

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The Ashling Hotel team are passionate about what we do. That includes telling you all there is to know about Ashling Hotel and Dublin City. Although we are not all native Dubliners, we have adopted the city as our home. We love to explore more and share our latest discoveries.
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