Phoenix Park, one of the largest urban parks in Europe

Phoenix Park – Páirc an Fhionnuisce

Phoenix Park (Irish: Páirc an Fhionnuisce) is an urban park in Dublin, lying 2–4 km west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 11 km perimeter wall encloses 707 hectares (1,750 acres); it is one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European capital city. It includes large areas of grassland and tree-lined avenues.

phoenix park dublin
Phoenix Park Aerial View

Since the 17th century has been home to a herd of wild fallow deer. The English name comes from the Irish Fionn Uisce meaning “clear water”. The Irish Government is lobbying UNESCO to have the park designated as a world heritage site.

The park is open 24 hours every day. From the Dublin Citi Hotel, you will need about 30 minutes by walking to get to the entrance gate.


Buildings and roads cover 45% of Dublin City. In Phoenix Park, they cover only 7%. Almost the entire park consists of green areas which are excellent for wild plants and wildlife. There are twenty-four different habitats (places where wild plants and animals live). Woodlands and tree-dominated areas cover 31% or 220ha, and grasslands cover 56% or 398ha. Above all, habitats include six types of woodland, five types of grassland, as well as hedgerows, scrub, ponds, streams, and wet ditches.


phoenix park deer
Phoenix Park has Wild Deer

Certainly, Phoenix Park is the most important site for birds in Dublin City. The expanses of semi-natural habitat offer cover, abundant food supplies, and nesting sites. Recent surveys recorded seventy-two species in the Park throughout the year, of which forty-seven are breeding.

The park supports twenty-eight species of conservation concern in Ireland including four which are red-listed. The total number of species found comprises 35% of the total number of species found in Ireland. The greatest density of birds was found in Dublin Zoo where the wild birds share in the food provided to its permanent residents. The lowest density was recorded along Chesterfield Avenue where noise and disturbance make the area unattractive for birds.

Here are 5 things to know about Phoenix Park:

1. Archaeologists have discovered that a Neolithic community (circa 5,500 years ago) lived on a high strip of land at the southern edge of the Phoenix Park between Knockmaroon and Islandbridge.

2. The oldest building in the park is Ashtown Castle, which began life as a tower house in the 1430s but was later restructured with stone. A Georgian house called Ashtown Lodge was built onto the castle in 1760 but has since, sadly, been demolished.

3. You are not allowed to do any of the following in the Phoenix Park: light fires, litter, ride a horse unless in an area specified for horseriding, put up posters, drive on the grass, sell things, play frisbee unless you get permission from the park superintendent, act “contrary to public morality”, “annoy or otherwise interfere” with other park users, go no faster than 50km/per hour on roads through the park.

phoenix park aereal view

4. In the past, you could rent some grazing land from the Park Commissioners “for such period less than one year” and only if such grazing was considered “proper”.

5.  There was a 5k road race on there today to kick off a year of events. Naturally, most of these are sports-related and you can see the full list for 2012 here. If you are looking for something to do on a rainy day, see what’s on at Farmleigh House and gallery and at the Phoenix Park visitor centre.

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