Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Unlike most parks and green spaces in Dublin, Iveagh Gardens is almost entirely surrounded by buildings which hide it from view, possibly making it one of Dublin’s best kept secrets. Located behind The National Concert Hall, and bordered by Upper Hatch St. and Earlsfort Terrace. It is absolutely worth a visit whenever these current restrictions are eased. The most accessible entrance is from Clonmel Street which is just off Harcourt Street.
One of the earliest records of the gardens was on a map from 1756 where it was referred to as Leeson Fields after land owner Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown, who along with John Hatch, were responsible for much of the development and expansion of this southern quarter of the city. This parcel of land was purchased in the late 18th century by The 1st Earl of Clonmel (AKA Copper Face Jack ) and became known as Clonmel’s Lawns.
In 1862, when Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness purchased nos. 80 and 81 St. Stephen’s Green as his family home, he planned to use the gardens to establish an exhibition centre similar to Crystal Palace in London for the citizens of Dublin to enjoy. Although, initially popular, interest waned and the gardens were taken back into private ownership. In 1865 Ninian Niven was employed as landscape architect by the Guinness Family to develop the gardens. The current layout of the gardens has maintained all of his original designs.
Some of the key features include a maze which is a miniature copy of London’s Hampton Court Maze, The sunken lawn which is Ireland’s only purpose built archery field and a large cascade or waterfall constructed with rocks gathered from all 32 counties.
In 1939 Sir Benjamin’s grandson Rupert Lord Iveagh gifted both his residence, Iveagh House, and the gardens to the State. Iveagh House is home to The Department of Foreign Affairs and the gardens are open to the public and are maintained by The OPW who, since 1995 have restored the gardens to their former glory.