Phoenix Park in Dublin, Ireland boasts the distinction of being the largest "enclosed park" in Europe. Sporting a total area of more than 1700 acres, Dublin Phoenix Park is almost twice as big as Central Park in New York.
I don't know if I've ever seen all of Central Park. I've walked and rode a bike in the park several times. But in all honesty, I've always been more worried about being mugged. The park is just so huge, that it's intimidating. It's too easy to be lost and not found. So imagine my shock when I discovered that Dublin Phoenix Park is nearly twice the size of New York's Central Park. I'm not sure parks are supposed to be that big. Aren't parks kind of small and usually with a bent up swing set and slide set off in a corner? Not so with Dublin Phoenix Park. It's more than 1700 acres showcase a variety of flora and fauna that includes gardens, hiking trails and enough trees to make even the most excited canine satisfied.
Hearing about Dublin Phoenix Park casts an entirely new light on my impression of Ireland. I never considered visiting Ireland until now. I thought all it did was rain. Or maybe that's England. At any rate, Dublin does have a lot to offer. Certainly more than beer, darts and pubs. And Dublin Phoenix Park gets the nod as one of the venues that draws in thousands of tourists each summer. The park was originally a Royal Hunting Park. That was back in the day when killing animals were a man's sport. But the park was opened to the public back in 1745. It was made a National Historic Park in 1986.
No more killing foxes or whatever these days. Visitors can spend a day just watching animals at the park's recently renovated zoo. Or they can watch any number of rugby matches that take place, in addition to soccer and polo. There are plenty of free concerts during the summer months. Of all the monuments in Dublin Phoenix Park, the most notable happens to be the home to the President of Ireland. Nothing like being the President, and having 1700 acres of prime real estate in your backyard. The American Ambassador to Ireland also hangs out here in his off-duty hours, as I understand he has quite a house in the park as well.
I'm about ready to pack my bags. I imagine Dublin Phoenix Park is a great place to go for a walk or jog. But again, I'm dealing with a size issue here. A park this big has got to have a dangerous element to it. And although I understand the park has rangers who patrol during the day, I think I'll hold off on a romantic stroll at night.
It's my nature to do a little research, so I was happy to discover that Phoenix Park has a visitor's center. The phoenix park house Dublin sits next to the parks resident 17th century castle. Like most visitor centers, phoenix park house Dublin has post cards, and maps and books for sale that detail the parks history and attractions. I'm sold. Now all I need is to find a flight.
What I really want to look for in the park are shamrocks and lepracons. I don't know if they really exist or if I'll find either one. But with 1700 acres to explore, I'm going to have lot of find finding out.