Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a... stalk
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun…”
Patrick Pearse

St Enda's National Historic Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

Twenty hectares of landscaped gardens and fields in St Enda's Park are ideal for nature walks and leisurely strolls. This “beautiful place near the hills” is significant because of the Pearse family. Patrick, writer, barrister and headmaster and his brother Willie, teacher and artist, taught here at Scoil Éanna. A visit is apt this year, the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising 1916 and the Pearse brothers' execution. Since Margaret Pearse's death in 1969, the Office of Public Works (OPW) maintain the property.

From the car park at Sarah Curran Avenue, skirt the sports grounds towards the elegant Georgian House, formerly the Hermitage. Now the Pearse Museum, it includes exhibitions and audiovisual shows. Scoil Éanna's story reflects interest in outdoor activities. Pupils went on long walks to Blackrock and the Phoenix Park. The nature study tradition is continued in a modern centre where visitors learn about flora and fauna. Kids revel in bat watches.

Follow the Wayfarer nature trail, Siúlán Dúlra, from the study centre along the boundary walls, around the stream and pond and back by the walled garden. Stops on the trail are not clearly identified on the ground. Observe holly and laurels and watch for mallard. “Leaping squirrels in a tree” now of grey colour are replacing the red species, iora rua.

At weekends in the tourist season, aromas of fresh food waft from the café and music enlivens the courtyard. Amble back into history on the tree-lined Emmet's walk, named after another ill-fated rebel, Robert Emmet, who strolled here with Sarah Curran, daughter of orator and barrister John Philpot Curran. A stone folly is named Emmet's fort. Buggies and wheel-chairs trundle on paths in this special park which seems to echo with past sounds.

Thanks to Ann, Alan and the guides, Andy and Sheila.


∏More www.heritageireland.ie. Scéal Scoil Éanna, the story of an educational adventure, OPW 1986; OPW leaflets. The Pearse Museum closes for renovations after the Rising commemorations at Easter. Access: M50, exit 13 via Ballinteer; bus 16 southbound from Santry and city centre. Main car park at Sarah Curran Avenue, off Grange Road, Rathfarnham