St. Stephen's Green is a beautiful park in Dublin city at the top of Grafton Street. It is popular with both visitors to the capital and Dublin residents alike. However, until the middle of the 17th century the park and the area around it was nothing more than commonage and at that time the area was considered on the outskirts of the much smaller Dublin of the time.
But long before that, during the time of the Crusaders who it was said brought Leprosy to Ireland, a result of which there was a hospital and a church built on the land where the park is now. The hospital, it's patients and the church were cared for by Monks and to this day, the east perimeter path there is called the Monk's Walk (although some say this is named after a member of the gentry of the time who owned a sizeable portion of land around the park). During the Reformation, the church, the hospital and the Monks were all removed and the land reverted back to the marshy open land it had been.
Back to the 17th century. In 1663 the council of Dublin, or corporation, decided to try to get in funds by sectioning off the area of the park as it is now and selling off the land surrounding the park for people to build on. The new park area was walled off in 1664 and the sold off land surrounding it was built upon. All of those buildings are now gone, replaced as they were with Georgian style residential properties around the end of the 18th century. The area was inhabited by the better off Dublin people and the park was only accessible to the residents in the properties surrounding the park.
In 1887, at the behest of Arthur Edward Guinness (Lord Ardilan), a great-grandson of the founder of the Guinness Brewery, Arthur Guinness, the park was opened to the general public. Arthur Edward Guinness, Lord Ardilan, who at the time owned Ashford Castle (now a famous hotel) in County Mayo, paid for the layout design of the park, the said layout is more or less as the park is today. There is a large monument to Lord Ardilan beside Ardilan Lodge at the edge of the west side of the park facing the Royal College of Surgeons. (see photos below).
During the 1916 Rising a group of around 200 involved in the Uprising, including Countess Markeivicz, captured the park in order that they could close off roads around the park. However, the British had estabilished a barracks at the Shelbourne hotel (on the north side of the park) from where they could attack the people in the park and they then had to retreat to take up a hold in the building of the Royal College of Surgeons on the west side of the park.
AROUND THE PARK
The lake, although man-made, is fed from the waters of the Grand Canal at nearby Portobello and takes up a good part of the north side of the park and is home to numerous species of wildfowl.
There is a little bridge crossing the lake and the bridge is named after the famous O'Connell Bridge in O'Connell Street. Beside the bridge is the 'Garden for the Blind' which has scented flowers and plants, the labels of which are in Braille.
Around the perimeter of the park there are four walks (paths): At the north end, the Beaux Walk; on the east side, the Monk's Walk; on the south side, the Leeson Walk.; and on west side, the French Walk. Each of these 'walks' is approximately one quarter of a mile long making the park almost a perfect square.
Fusiliers Arch, St. Stephen's Green
At one of the entrance/exits to/from the park, opposite Grafton Street, visitors enter under the large stone archway called 'Fusiliers Arch' which commemorates the Dublin Fusiliers who fell during the
Fusiliers Arch, which at times has been called 'Traitors Arch'. The arch commemorates the members of the Dublin Fusiliers who fell during the Boar War and the names of all those who died is listed in the curve on the underside of the arch.
From the information sign beside the arch:
"The Memorial Arch commemorates the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in the Anglo Boer South African War 1899-1902 whose names are inscribed on the underside of the Arch. The Arch was suggested by Sir Thomas Drew and plans were made by Mr. Howard Pentland of the Board of Works (former name for the O.P.W.). The Arch was constructed of Irish granite with the inscriptions carried out in limestone by Laverty & Sons from Belfast. The Arch stands 32 feet 6 inches in height and 27 feet and 3 inches in width.
(Next paragraph is about the Boar War). Then . . .
The Formation of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers The Royal Dublin Fusiliers was one of the Irish Infantry regiments of the British Army. It had its origins in the 17th century in the garrisons established by the East India Company in Madras and Bombay to protect its commercial enterprises. The regiment was created on 1st of July 1881 by the amalgamation of the 102nd Regiment of Foot (Royal Madras Fusiliers) and the 103rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Bombay Fusiliers) to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. The India origins can be seen in the Tiger and Elephant incorporated into the regimental badge which is cast in bronze on the front of the Arch. In March 1922 the order ws issued to disband the regiment along with the four other recruited in the territory of the new Irish State.
(Next a paragraph about the Buggler Dunne). Then . . .
The Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association
STATUES, SCULPTURES & MONUMENTS
Statue of Lord Ardilan
There are many statues and memorials dotted throughout the park, among them: Countess Markievicz (see also Kilmainham Gaol and Glasnevin Cemetery); Theobold Wolfe Tone (who was eventually captured by the British in October 1798 on Lough Swilly, in County Donegal; Lord Ardilan (Arthur Edward Guinness); Robert Emmet, whose statue stands opposite the place he was born; (Jerimiah) O'Donovan Rossa; Thomas Kettle; and James Joyce.
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