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Albert College Park, Dublin

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.

albert college park

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.

St Annes Park, Dublin

st annes park

It may well be January and a little chilly for some, but for me, Parks and Gardens have to be seen in their Sunday best as well as first thing in the morning – by way of all the seasons, if you get my drift – in order to fully appreciate them. Sunday 22nd January saw me visit St Annes Park that borders Clontarf and Raheny on Dublin’s Northside.

A park I have noted it many times here on the garden blog, but never on its own. A credit to dublin City Council, I have to admit one that I am very fond of and will highly recommend.

A little research look on wikipedia tells me thus:

The park, the second largest municipal park in Dublin, is part of a former 202 hectares (500 acres) estate assembled by members of the Guinness family, beginning with Benjamin Lee Guinness in 1835 (the largest municipal park is nearby (North) Bull Island, also shared between Clontarf and Raheny). Features include an artificial pond and a number of follies.

Not wishing to brush history to one side, the park is a great way to see garden features built as they should be. The views and ‘what is around the corner‘ type challenges exist and adding to that there are many ‘should I take the road less travelled’ routes – or not [?] to its design and layout. Intrigue in any garden, irrespective of size is always good.

More than that, there are age old majestic Quercus Ilex [Holm oaks] all along the banks of the water running streams, their roots exposed for all to see. And equally there are trees clad in Ivy with daffodils just waiting to explode the park into colour. Good parks, nee great gardens should look brilliant at any time of the year – and that includes the months outside of Summer. That doesn’t mean they have to be infinitely perfect – more, at the very least that they should call, invite and want you to want to spend time in them.

The Rules of St Anne”s Park and Rose Garden ? (mp3)

The audio I recorded is a little windy in parts – but irrespective of what I say – I do love St Annes Park. We had coffee and cake there, used the playground, wandered the woods and admired what I can only imagine will be a busy week after for the lawn repairs division.

On a side note, do keep an eye out for my upcoming garden tours to be announced this week on my garden blog.