Walks: Herbert Park, Dublin

A green oasis between Ballsbridge and Donnybrook, Herbert Park evokes images of the Edwardian suburbia of a century ago.


James Joyce described the “air of wealth and repose” as people walked towards Pembroke township: as they went slowly along the avenues, the trees and scattered lights in the villas soothed their minds.

The park of about 13 hectares was named after a previous owner Lord Herbert, father of the Earl of Pembroke. A great international trade exhibition was held there in 1907. Some features from that event remain: the lake, some shelters and the pergola, part of the veranda for the former fine arts building. An Indian village site is now a Gaelic football pitch.
The park is well maintained by Dublin City Council. Its predecessor, Dublin Corporation, in cooperation with the Fisheries Board, introduced carp fish to the ponds but fishing is forbidden. Walk under the Italian style pergola, a passageway and trelliswork profuse with an array of plants. Yellow blooms and red hot pokers brighten the border.  
Trees include beech, horse chestnut and birch. US President Carter's mother planted Norway maple in November 1977. Hornbeam replaced the elms which were felled after infection with Dutch Elm Disease. Watch for tree reflections in the lake.
There are special mementoes including the tree of heaven, planted to commemorate the New York Asian Society's visit.
When strolling, take time to observe the many bird species, including wood pigeon, chaffinch and robin. You may identify the tufted duck by observing the black drake with white patches on each flank. Mallard, moorhen and coot have bred in the park for many decades but tufted ducks are newcomers.
Kids enjoy the playground. Enthusiasts play tennis, football or bowling on the extensive facilities in the park. Many people prefer to walk, relax and enjoy the trees and plants such as heathers and a rhododendron named Christmas Cheer. In summer, music entertains visitors. Dogs should be kept on leads.
The road through the park is busy as cars cross from Ballsbridge and Donnybrook. The nearby hotel was built on the site of Johnston, Mooney and O'Brien's bakery. The Dodder flows by Herbert Park, part of a linear park network which local councils are developing along the river bank.
∏More Down the Dodder, Christopher Moriarty, 1998. www.dublincity.ie. Access: buses – www.dublinbus.ie. From Ballsbridge and Donnybrook, there are many entrances to the park