Walks: St Anne's Park, Dublin

This green oasis in the city's northern suburbs is full of surprises and amenities. The park of about 110 hectares was part of a larger demesne owned by the Guinness and Plunkett families. Dublin Corporation developed most of the land for housing but retained the scenic core as parkland.

Entering from James Larkin Rd near Bull Island, stroll around the small lake to St Anne's stone covered well. Follies from the Guinness era include a boathouse designed in Pompeian Temple style and a building in the mode of Herculaneum, sister city of Pompeii. Modern follies are evident in the vandalism of old buildings, now defaced with graffiti.

Walk over stone bridges along the little Naniken River. A clock tower with two figures and a coat of arms invites a vista into the miniature rose garden. Its iron railings, piers and gates were recycled from the Guinness mansion, destroyed by fire in 1943. The stink of mulched manure on pruned rose bushes promises aromas from Summer blooms.

The main avenue, straight and wide, evokes images of horse-drawn carriages bringing guests to the Guinness mansion. Lord Ardilaun planted evergreen holm oak trees which line the avenue. Novelist Neil Belton described the sombre mood when turf was stored during the Emergency. Nearby, the Millennium Arboretum contains diverse species including Japanese maples, cedar and lime trees. The city's parks department in co-operation with the Tree Council and sponsors planted a thousand trees in six hectares in 1988.

On the opposite side, international trials are held in the well-maintained Rose Garden. Visitors observing a rose bush named "grouse" may be provoked to grouse about vandalised notice boards, displaying the obsolete title Corporation of Dublin, the local authority which Dublin City Council replaced.

Cheers from the pitches echo with unfamiliar sounds. Polska, the Polish immigrants' team, play Angola in the Sport against Racism League. Above the trees sounds from a flock of large birds: Brent geese, migrants from Greenland, feed in St Anne's Park before returning to Bull Island.

Thanks to Ann and Paul Quinn.


?More www.dublincity.ie; www.visitDublin.com. Secret Dublin, Pat Liddy, 2001. A Game with Sharpened Knives, Neil Belton, 2005. Access: Bus, 130 to Mount Prospect Avenue, Clontarf; DART to Killester Station; various pedestrian gates; motorists take the coast road northwards from city centre via Fairview, parking at James Larkin Rd, Watermill Rd or at Bull Island