An Irish History Lesson in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin

 St Stephen’s Green is one of the most popular public parks in Dublin and is a favourite with many Dubliners and visitors. Situated near Grafton Street which is one of Dublin’s main shopping streets, the park is one of the largest parks in Dublin’s main Georgian area.

As well as enjoying the pleasant surroundings, the park has a series of statues and monuments that provide some intriguing insights into Irish History.

Until the mid 17th century, St Stephen’s Green was a common on the edge of Dublin, used for grazing. Dublin Corporation decided to enclose some of the common and to sell land. By the end of the eighteenth century, the Green and surroundings was favoured by the wealthy of Dublin.

Access to the Green was restricted to local residents, until 1877, when Parliament passed an Act to open St Stephen’s Green to the public. The initiative of Lord Ardilaun and his generous funding of a new layout of the Green provided a greatly needed green space in the middle of Dublin. In a response to his generosity, the local corporation commissioned a statue of him, which still faces the College of Surgeons.

Working around the park provides an opportunity to discover other Irish heroes, there are statues and monuments to Fenian leader Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, Theobald Wolfe Tone, the leader of the 1798 rebellion and Robert Emmet, the Irish nationalist and Republican.

One of Ireland greatest writers, James Joyce is celebrated with a bust and garden. One of the more unusual statues is the Three Fates. The statue was designed by Joseph Wackerle in bronze in 1956. The statue was a gift from the German people in thanks for Irish help to refugee children following World War II.

The peace and quiet of the park was shattered during the Easter Rising of 1916, when a group of 200 to 250 members of the Irish Citizen Army established a position in St Stephen’s Green. They established road blocks but were soon under fire from Army positions and withdrew to the Royal College of Surgeons. The full drama of this incident is told on a large number of boards around the park, one of our favourites was that in the heat of the battle, fire was temporarily halted to allow the park’s groundsman to feed the local ducks.

Thankfully, now you can sit and feed the ducks in peace whilst admiring this most attractive park.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

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