The Hidden Parks of Dublin
Sometimes in a big city it is nice to find a tranquil place to while away a few hours relaxing. The city of Dublin is dotted with small parks and enclosures that are nicely maintained by the city council.
Blessington Street Basin
Walk north up O’Connell Street, North Frederick Street to Blessington Street, and you will come to this small park. On the way you will pass substantial Georgian houses, many with plaques remembering their previous owners and tenants.
This side of the city was originally the finest place to live in Dublin in 18th and 19th century, and the wide Georgian streets are reminders of a lavish past. Horses and carriages carried the gentry around the city. The small park at the top of Blessington Street is known as the Basin.
As you enter the park look left and you will see a plaque about Iris Murdoch. She was an award-winning novelist and philosopher, who was born in this area in 1919. On the right is a perfectly designed Tudor Lodge dating from 1811, it was the residence of the Basin-keeper. The little garden has sign to welcome fairies and the stone wall is decorated with fairy doors.
The Blessington Street Basin was constructed as the Royal George Reservoir in 1810, water was fed by the Royal Canal from Lough Owel in County Westmeath. The reservoir was used to store and distribute water to the north city until 1865. It continued to supply water to distilleries until much more recently – to Jameson until 1970, and to Power’s until 1976.
A Tranquil Public Park
In 1994 the reservoir became a public park and now has a small lake with fountains, ducks, waterhens, swans and weeping willows. There are lots of lovely trees around this small park and plenty of alcoves and places to sit. It is a small park that people seem to enjoy walking around. Often you will see people doing laps as they chat with friends. In the top corner is a trompe d’oeuil of a cottage, with a colourful door and flowers, and a teapot on the table. It looks so real, you could nearly step inside.
Along the wall on the northern side inset into the stonework are beautifully made bronze replicas of plants, animals, and insects you might see in this little park. This installation was an art initiative with the local school St. Marys of Dorset Street and artist Austin McQuinn. The sculptures have aged nicely and are now green with verdigris and look like they have always been there.
The little park has plenty of places, nooks and alcoves to sit and enjoy watching life go by. At sunset the light glinting off the lake and through the trees is special time of the day. In winter it is open from 10am – 5pm, with the closing time increasing as the light returns, opening up to 10pm in mid-summer.