Herbert Park: How it Began

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A boggy, marshy piece of land once known as Forty Acres is where Dublin’s Herbert Park evolved from and for local residents it’s an amenity not taken for granted.

Today people jog, walk their dogs, workers eat their lunch and kids feed the ducks in the pond. The park was acquired in the 1300s by the Fitzwilliam estate, then inherited by the 11th Earl of Pembroke in 1816 and in honour of his son Sidney Herbert, it was gifted to the local township in 1903. It was taken over by Dublin City Council in 1932 and has since seen major developments as a park for public use and enjoyment.

The centenary celebrations in 2011 marked 100 years since the formal opening of the park in 1911. Prior to then, its timeline is rich in significant events including Donnybrook Fair that took place initially in 1204 and went on for another 600 years.

The 1907 international exhibition showcasing the best in Irish trade and industry had an attendance of up to three million national and international visitors over a six-month period. Buildings and features were created for this event, including the bandstand and pond (pictured above) but to the dissatisfaction of locals many trees were felled. After the exhibition finished, the area needed to be maintained and throughout the years a focal point was replanting the trees and as a consequence natural native trees thrived in the park. Trees include holly, scotts pine, ash, hazel, elder, apple and mountain ash.

Gone is the bog land which occasionally centuries ago was flooded by the river Dodder, in its place is a park with a rich history and facilities for locals and visitors. There are tennis courts, a native tree trail, sports dressing rooms, a playground, bandstand, croquet, bowling, bowls, jogging, the pond with ducks and allotments.

Generally the park’s opening times coincide with daylight saving hours but officially it’s open from 10am to 5.30pm in winter and to 10pm in summertime.

By Leeza Kane