I was in Albert College Park last weekend, for my first time. If ever embarrassment was warranted in my very photosynthetic world, this was the case for it, for unknowns maybe, some moons ago, 14 years approx of them, I was responsible for the grounds of Dublin City University. And, should gardens be houses, these two would be a semi-detatched. Right, next door to each other.
As parks go and at first glance, the grounds show remnants of estate like appearance with olde entrance steps and piers; tree lines, pines, stalwart in pairs and in rows and the railing entrance almost a little esque of St. Stephens Green. Far more embarrassing than never being there before ? Knowing Its history. I refer of course to 1927.
- 1838 Albert College began as ‘The Glasnevin Institution’, based at Cuilίn House and became known as ‘The Model Farm’ for agricultural teaching.
- 1853 After a visit by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort it was called the Albert College.
- 1900 (c), it was a national centre of excellence in agricultural education, the ‘Albert National Training Institution’.
- 1926 (c) it was an important centre of University College Dublin (UCD).
- 1927 (c) Professor Paul A. Murphy put the Albert on the world map when he discovered the cause of the potato famine, the potato blight fungus. The Albert was the training and research centre for horticulture, plant pathology, plant breeding, animal breeding and botany in Ireland. Cuilίn House was the residence of the College’s Director.
- 1978 UCD departed the Albert for the new Belfield campus and Dublin Corporation developed The Albert into Hampstead Park with new planting and recreational grounds.
It’s a little War Memorial Park versus The Phoenix Park, in the over shadowing sense, but with that also comes its upsides. I walked there with Ella and my good friend Blaithín. Botanical eloquence, in appearance, it may not be, but serenity it certainly is.
As I walked with the parambulator, Blaithín quized my botanical latin versus what was noted on the plaques, which she then translated into Irish. And a little like being on Inis Mór and being more Irish, I did feel more at ease knowing the who’s who of Irish horticulture had been here at some point.
On our way round, we got dragged into a tug o’ war family games day that just happened to be taking place. My manly strength aside and far, far more noticeable was the sound of laughter from the many and varying facets of the park. Now that, is what makes green spaces the stuff of legends.
Joggers, kick abouts, play areas and sports pitches noted; as a space outside I love this place. It’s subtle, like meeting Ronnie Wood and him not picking a guitar up, just in case you might think of him a show off ; In reality, we know, I and he. The history is just too much.