Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dublin's Iveagh Gardens

There's a garden, what a garden
Only happy faces bloom there
And there's never any room there
For a worry or a gloom there.

Nope, we're not back in Munich already, it's Dublin's secret park, Iveagh Gardens! Never heard of it? Never seen it? Don't blame you. This beautiful park is located right in the heart of City Centre, just a stone's throw away from St. Stephen's Green, but almost completely invisible to the outside world. Don't believe me? Check out the two entrances.

Iveagh Gardens Entrance Dublin
See the "AWESOME PUBLIC PARK" Sign? Me Neither

Iveagh Gardens Entrance
Doesn't That Look Inviting?

The park is on Dublin maps, but isn't promoted as much as it deserves to be. Iveagh (pronounced ivy) Gardens, like most of the other amazing parks in Dublin, was once a stately private garden owned by a rich family given to the city as a park. Remnants of its former private status seem to dot the park. This isn't confirmed, but I romantically assume that the crumbling statues of Greek myths were commissioned by some self-important aristocrat to show his connection to Classical enlightenment and power.

Ivy growing over a broken statue of a Greek god at Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Iveagh Ivy

Broken statue of a Greek goddess at Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Did Someone Break Venus' Nose?

In the center of the park, a long green stretch is cut by an arrow-straight gravel path. Two matching angel fountains look at each other across the stretch, like some puzzle from an old Resident Evil game.

Park Center Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Park Center

Resident Evil Angel Statue Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Resident Evil Angel Statue

Gravel Paths at Iveagh Gardens Dublin, Ireland
Gravel Paths

In addition to the angel fountains, a large cascade flows down a rocky face of the water highlight of the park.

Iveagh Gardens Cascade Fountain
Iveagh Gardens Water Highlight

This might not be everyone's favorite spot, but one corner of the park is planted with a circular maze leading in to a sundial on a pedestal. The circular maze isn't really a challenge to solve, and the walls are low enough to just step over, but it seems to be built in the style of a Buddhist labyrinth. These circular, easy-to-solve mazes are not meant to challenge, but to encourage meditation and contemplation while performing a mindless task. The Buddhists know all about the power of a repetitive task to clear away the stresses and distractions of the world. The Catholics meditate by praying the rosary, repeating the same memorized words over and over like a mantra in order to clear away conscious thought.

Iveagh Gardens Maze Path Dublin
Iveagh Maze Path

Sundial at the Center of the maze Iveagh Gardens Dublin, Ireland
Sundial at the Center

Sundial Closeup

Maybe someday I will actually visit the Gardens when the sun is out... then again maybe not. The sundial does have instructions for taking a mostly accurate time reading. There is a mathematical adjustment that has to be added or subtracted depending on the time of year. Of course, sundials do not observe daylight savings time, so a further consideration must be made in the Summer months.

Iveagh Gardens is surrounded on all sides by high walls and fences. The entrances are tucked away in back alleys behind other buildings, so the average Dublin visitor would never find them. I assume Dubliners like it this way, as I usually find locals reclining in the grass of the quiet park and families with young children playing on the decorative rocks and large field. 

This in contrast to the "Nice Day Melee" that occurs in St. Stephen's Green anytime the sun shows itself. Tourists, lovers, drunks, and teenagers (sometimes all four in one individual) converge on the park like the ducks and seagulls that follow them. It must be nice for locals to have a quiet place to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

...Come to think of it, don't tell anyone! Pretend you've never read this article!

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