Dublin City, Co Dublin
The best-known public park in Ireland, St Stephen’s Green debuted in 1880 and maintains its Victorian layout to this day. It’s a favourite place to meet for lunch, particularly for Dublin office employees who work in neighbourhoods near the park. For visitors, the park is a quiet and convenient escape from the rush of nearby Grafton Street.
The park has many notable features. The grounds are rectangular and built around a central garden. It includes a large lake with ducks and other birdlife. There are several busts, memorials and placards throughout the park, commemorating Irish greats, such as Joyce and Yeats, who had their own personal connections to the Green.
Also of note is Fusilier’s Arch, which is located at the top of the park near Grafton Street. It was designed as a scaled-down version of Rome’s Arch of Titus and commissioned to honour the more than 200 soldiers who fought and died for the British during the Boer War at the turn of the 20th century.
Perhaps most striking, the park also has a special garden for the blind. It’s planted with particularly aromatic plants that have been chosen not only for their aroma, but also for their hardiness and ability to withstand handling. Each is marked with a brail placard.
During the Easter Rising of 1916, the Royal College of Surgeons was occupied by rebel forces. It’s said that both parties actually stopped exchanging fire long enough to allow the groundskeeper to feed the ducks on the Green. This park is an Irish icon and a source of local pride.