A Dublin park for wildlife and for people

Phoenix Park buildings

A history

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"Author Brendan Nolan provides a fascinating read."
Irish Independent.

"Brendan Nolan's comprehensive history and guidebook of Phoenix Park is a masterpiece." Community Voice.


"Very well researched, and beautifully written and illustrated.
Make sure to buy a copy. It is certain to be of interest to
anybody living in Dublin or within its commuter belt."...
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army HQ Headquarters of the Irish Defence Forces

In addition to serving as functional buildings, a number of large houses in the park are home to those living there.

Áras an Uachtaráin is home to the President of Ireland and stands in its own grounds to the north of the main Chesterfield Avenue. Its main entrance is beside the roundabout at the Phoenix Column. A near neighbour is the serving United States Ambassador who lives in Deerfield House.


Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin is the home and workplace of the President of Ireland. In 1754, less than ten years after public access to the park was granted, Park Ranger Nathaniel Clements began construction of the house. The first house was a plain structure and was a neat, plain brick building.

There have been improvements and additions made to the house over the years, the most noteworthy being the establishment of formal gardens by Decimus Burton in the 1840s; addition of the East Wing in 1849 for the state visit of Queen Victoria; installation of mains gas supply in 1852 and electricity in 1908; and extension of the West Wing for the visit of George V in 1911.

Áras an Uachtaráin is also a workplace where visiting dignitaries are received and foreign ambassadors present their credentials to the President.

Ashtown Castle
Under a law passed by Henry VI in 1429, a grant of a tenner was made available to every man within the pale who within ten years built a “£10 castle” of certain minimum dimensions. Ashtown Castle may well have been built at this time

Restoration began in autumn 1989. The castle had been heavily altered in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the insertion of Georgian windows, new floors and roof. Today, it is maintained as a museum.

deerfieldDeerfield House, the American Ambassador’s Residence

In 1772, Sir John Blaquiere was named Bailiff of Phoenix Park and as bailiff he received a four-roomed cottage at what is now Deerfield, which he extended into a Georgian house on sixty acres.

On 27 February 1927, the US envoy to the Irish Free State, Texan Frederick A. Sterling opened a ministerial legation in Dublin.In 1949 a 999-year lease was signed with the OPW and the US took over the maintenance of the property.

farmleighFarmleigh dates from the 1880s. The house and grounds were purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness on his marriage to his cousin, Adelaide Guinness, in 1873.

Irish architect James Franklin Fuller designed the extension of the house to the west, refurbishment of the existing house, and addition of a third storey in 1881–84. By 1896, the ballroom wing was added. A new conservatory was added in a space adjoining the ballroom in 1901, where it currently stands, in its refurbished manifestation.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) bought the house and grounds in 1999 from the Guinness family, for a guesthouse fit for the lodging of plenipotentiaries, premiers, presidents and princes.

bridge A landmark clock tower rises to some thirty-seven metres in height. The tower contains an 8,183-litre water tank. A weir was constructed on the Liffey at Strawberry Beds and a mile-long millrace channeled water to turn a turbine, which pumped water to the tower and generated electricity for the house. The lines were taken across the Liffey on an iron bridge specially erected for the task.

Gates, Lodges and Other Buildings
There are some thirty-eight lodges with living accommodation situated within Phoenix Park and no two dwellings are of the same design.

The wall is itself designated as a protected structure and stretches the entire way around the present-day park. It is eleven kilometres long and three metres high. The wall also supports its own particular flora.

Each of the vehicular gates into Phoenix Park has a gatekeeper’s lodge as part of the entrance cluster.

The People’s Flower Gardens on Chesterfield Avenue were laid out on 21 acres in 1864 under George William Frederick Howard, seventh Earl of Carlisle.

zoo lodgeThe view from the Gardens includes the entrance to Dublin Zoo (left). A number of buildings are situated inside the grounds of the zoo that are of interest.

An imposing two-storey Garda Officers’ Club at the Garda Depot dates from 1863 and is the design of Benjamin Woodward.

The North Circular Road entrance to Phoenix Park is almost as busy a thoroughfare as are the main gates at Parkgate Street and, again, a gatekeeper’s lodge watches over the entrance.

The gatelodge is just one of the dwellings in Phoenix Park that has its own history and uniqueness that together make up the tapestry of life and structure that is Phoenix Park.

Copies of Phoenix Park a history and guidebook are a welcome addition to your corporate or conference goodybags.

book jacket For more detail read

The comprehensive book on Dublin's own national park.

In the shops now

ISBN 1-904148-78-6
or order online here

Brendan Nolan has reported on Phoenix Park as a freelance journalist for several decades and was a professional observer at many of the events of the late 20th century related herein.

He was born in Chapelizod in a house beside the churchyard of Le Fanu and counted Phoenix Park as his personal rambling ground through his growing years and beyond.


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"This is an enthusiast's book."
RTÉ's Today with Pat Kenny



"It's a fabulous book. It should be in all schools."
West Dublin Access Radio


Nolan sets well-known events in the Park's history beside accounts of its buildings and institutions, as well as obscure subjects like park rangers' uniform regulations.
Irish Times

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