Phoenix Park in Dublin

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Phoenix Park is an urban park in Dublin, Ireland, lying 2–4 km west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 16 km perimeter wall encloses 707 ha, one of the largest walled city parks in Europe. It includes large areas of grassland and tree-lined avenues, and since the seventeenth century has been home to a herd of wild Fallow deer. The English name comes from the Irish fionn uisce meaning "clear water".


After the Normans conquered Dublin and its hinterland in the 12th century Hugh Tyrell, 1st Baron of Castleknock, granted a large area of land, including what now comprises the Phoenix Park, to the Knights Hospitaller. They established an abbey at Kilmainham on the site now occupied by Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The knights lost their lands when Henry VIII confiscated monastic properties in 1537 and eighty years later the lands once more reverted to the ownership of the King's representatives in Ireland. On the restoration of Charles II, his Viceroy in Dublin, Lord Ormonde established a Royal Hunting Park in 1662 which contained pheasants and wild deer, therefore it was necessary to enclose the entire area with a wall. The Park originally included the demesne of Kilmainham Priory south of the River Liffey, but with the building of the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham, which commenced in 1680, the Park was reduced to its present size, all of which is now north of the river. It was opened to the people of Dublin by Lord Chesterfield in 1745.

In 1882, it was the location for two famous murders. The Chief Secretary for Ireland (the British Cabinet minister with responsibility for Irish affairs), Lord Frederick Cavendish, and his Undersecretary (chief civil servant), Thomas Henry Burke, were stabbed to death with surgical knives while walking from Dublin Castle. A small insurgent group called the Invincibles were responsible.

Features of interest

The Park is split between three civil parishes: Castleknock to the north-west, Chapelizod to the south and St James' to the south. The last named is mainly centred south of the River Liffey around St James' parish church.

Áras an Uachtaráin

The residence of the President of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin, built in 1754, is located in the park. Originally named the Viceregal Lodge where the Lord Lieutenant lived for most of the intervening years until the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo is one of Dublin's main attractions. It houses more than 700 animals and tropical birds from around the world and was founded in 1830 and opened to the public on 1 September 1831, with animals from the London Society, making it the third oldest zoo in the world. Within a year the zoo housed 123 species.

Papal Cross

The Papal Cross was erected at the edge of Fifteen Acres for the visit of Pope John Paul II on 29 September 1979. Over one million people attended an open air mass in the park at the time. The white cross, which dominates its surroundings, is 35 m high and was built with steel girders. It was installed with some difficulty: after several attempts, the cross was eventually erected just a fortnight before the Pope arrived.


The Wellington Monument is a 62 m tall obelisk commemorating the victories of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. It is the largest obelisk in Europe and would have been even higher if the publicly subscribed funding had not run out. A second notable monument is the "Phoenix Column", a Corinthian column located on Chesterfield Avenue.


Motor racing

Motor racing first took place in the Phoenix Park in 1903 when the Irish Gordon Bennett Race Speed Trials were held on the main straight for both cars and motorcycles. This was followed in 1929 by the Irish International Grand Prix; the first of three Irish motor racing grands prix. Racing took place between 1932 until the beginning of World War II in 1939 and was revived again in 1949 with a sprint on the Oldtown circuit followed the next year by a full racing meeting again and has been used virtually continuously until today. Over the years seven different circuits have been used, two of which are named after the famous Ferrari World Champion racing driver Mike Hawthorn.

Irish International Grand Prix winners

Season Date Race Name Location Winning Driver Chassis Engine
1929 12 July I Irish Grand Prix (Saorstát Cup) Phoenix Park Boris Ivanowski Alfa Romeo 6C Alfa Romeo
1929 13 July I Irish Grand Prix (Éireann Cup) Phoenix Park Boris Ivanowski Alfa Romeo 6C Alfa Romeo
1930 18 July II Irish Grand Prix (Saorstát Cup) Phoenix Park Victor Gillow Riley 9 Brooklands
1930 19 July II Irish Grand Prix (Éireann Cup) Phoenix Park Rudolf Caracciola Mercedes SSK Mercedes-Benz

Great Ireland Run

The Great Ireland Run, a 10 km running competition, has been held annually each April in Phoenix Park since 2003. It includes races for professional runners and the public and the 2010 edition attracted over 11,000 participants. Athletes such as Sonia O'Sullivan and Catherina McKiernan are among the race's past winners.


Music concerts have been performed in the park by such acts as U2, Coldplay, Duran Duran, Robbie Williams, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ian Brown, Justice, Kanye West, Arcade Fire and Tom Waits.

Phoenix Cricket Club

Phoenix Cricket Club, the oldest cricket club in Ireland, founded in 1830, by John Parnell, the father of Charles Stewart Parnell is located in the park. During the 1930s, 1940s and 1970s, it was the dominant club in Leinster cricket.

Popular culture

The park is featured prominently in James Joyce's novel, Finnegans Wake, and tangentially in Ulysses. It is occasionally used for open-air concerts and the annual Phoenix Park Motor Races.

In general, Dublin postal districts on the Northside are odd numbers, while Southside codes are even. One exception is the Phoenix Park, which is on the Northside but forms part of an even-numbered district (Dublin 8).

See also

  • Gardens in the Republic of Ireland
  • Phoenix Park Racecourse

Further reading

External links