Clarion Hotel Dublin Liffey Valley
Liffey Valley Complex
Phone: (353) 1 6258000
Fax: (353) 1 6258010
Liffey Valley Complex, Dublin, IE, 22
- Phone: (353) 1 6258000
- Fax: (353) 1 6258010
Measuring just under 1,800 acres, Phoenix Park is the largest city park in Europe. The great green expanse in the west of the city is a mixture of wilderness and formal landscape gardens. It offers a variety of recreational activities such as Gaelic football, polo and cricket. A towering Papal Cross marks the visit of Pope John Paul II, back in 1979. Also enclosed within the park's boundaries are a Visitors' Centre, Ashtown Castle, Dublin Zoo, Aras an Uachtarain (the official residence of the President of Ireland) and the Residence of the United States' Ambassador. Phoenix Park also has a bird sanctuary and a herd of fallow deer as well as boasting an impressive diversity of plantlife.
Aras an Uachtaráin is the official residence of the President of Ireland and has the Phoenix Park—the largest city park in Europe as its garden. Built in 1751 as a rather luxurious home for the park ranger, the house became the residence of successive viceroys, who oversaw British rule in Ireland. In 1938 it became home to the president of the newly-independent Ireland and today welcomes some 15,000 visitors each year. There is no provision for pre-bookings and tickets—which are free of charge—are dispensed on a first-come, first-served basis at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre.
Originally part of Trinity College, the Dunsink Observatory houses the astronomical section of the School of Cosmic Physics, which is now a part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. The observatory regularly hosts public stargazing nights where admission is free, although tickets are required. Open nights are held on the first and third Wednesday nights of the dark winter months. Prospective visitors must write for tickets enclosing a stamped self addressed envelope.
This spectacular feudal stronghold is the only remaining castle in Ireland to be surrounded by a flooded moat, which is now teeming with fish. The castle consists of a restored Great Hall, a battlement tower commanding impressive views of the area, look-out posts, a stable, a coach house and folly tower. Visitors may also find the castle's 17th century formal gardens of interest, they feature mop head laurels, box hedges and yew trees.
Designed by Edwin Lutyens (one of the most significant architects of the twentieth century), these simple but dignified gardens commemorate the 49,000 Irish soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War. The central garden consists of a lawn enclosed by a high limestone wall with granite piers. At either end are two book rooms (also done out in granite) which hold the names of all the dead soldiers. Visitors can view the shrine upon application to the administration. A pair of sunken rose gardens flanks this central lawn and the park slopes down to a tranquil stretch of the River Liffey. This stretch of the river is used by rowers from the local universities and is a calm and pretty spot on a bright day. Call for timings. Admission is free.
Kilmainham Gaol is one of Ireland's most important buildings. It was designed in an attempt to improve the quality of the penal system, and in the belief that prisons should be hygienic and well-ventilated. It is also, however, a 'panopticon', emphasizing the importance of surveillance at all times, and as a result the Gaol earned itself a notorious reputation. Inmates included rebels from the Easter Rising in 1916; most notably Eamon de Valera, the last prisoner to be freed under the Free State, who went on to become President of Ireland. Now the place has been converted into a museum. Guided tours provide the only access to the prison. An exhibition in the main hall and a video also outline the history of this controversial building.
More than 235 species of wild animals and exotic birds inhabit Dublin Zoo, a vast expanse within Phoenix Park. Created in 1830 and recently restored and extended, this zoo is the third-oldest in the world, with London and Paris as "big siblings". The thirty acres provide lots of treats for the family, including a pet's corner and new attractions such as City Farm, Monkey Island and Fringes of the Arctic. The train ride around the zoo is also fun and a welcome rest for weary legs! Refreshments are available in the restaurant and coffee shop, while a variety of cuddly toys can be found in the gift shop.
This little-known park makes a handy short cut from Phibsborough to the city centre. Formerly an extension of the Royal Canal, the linear stretch was drained in the 18th century to facilitate a traditional Victorian park. Now the locals use it for dog- walking and on sunny days you'll find a mass of pink bodies stretched out here, catching the rays. The area feels a little isolated, however, so it's probably best to avoid the park at night.
At the edge of the city in Tallaght, Tymon Park is a public open space in progress. Not long ago this area was agricultural and some of the original field hedgerows remain. Under pressure from the rapidly growing residential development all around, the authorities are trying to keep this space undeveloped and there is certainly a touch of the prairie about it. Interesting water features, streams and lakes can all be seen. It's a good place for blowing the cobwebs away with a long windswept walk.
The uniquely designed Wonderful Barn was built as a relief house for those who had been affected by the 1740's famine. Built by Katherine Conolly of Castletown, the conical building is used as a Granary Barn, and the fort structure protected it from attacks by the Wicklow Clan. Designed in a conical shape, this 70 feet (21 meters) structure surrounds itself with a cantilevered staircase. One of the most uncommonly designed structures in all of Ireland, The Wonderful Barn is today a frequently visited tourist spot.
All Dubliners have a love-hate relationship with the River Liffey. Watching the sun set into the river over the Ha'penny Bridge could bring a tear to the eye, yet a well-known Dublin song celebrates 'the Liffey as it stank like hell'. When a millennium clock was placed in the river it was immediately christened 'The Time in the Slime': the slime obscured the face and the countdown clock had to be removed. The river is in the process of being cleaned up and it thankfully no longer smells as bad as it once did. For those interested in fishing, the river is rich in perch, pike, and roach. Salmon and trout can also be taken between Lucan and the Memorial Park in Islandbridge. Coarse fish anglers should note that these stretches observe club regulations.
If you enjoy a beer more than anything in the world, then a trip to St. James' Gate Brewery is a must for you. It is where the world-renowned Guinness originated, and has been producing this magic ale ever since. The Guinness Storehouse located in it houses an exhibition of the history of this drink. The Storehouse can also be hired for meetings and events and can be contacted at + 353 1 408 4800 for details.