I managed to get lost today. I got the No. 130 bus with the intention of visiting St. Annes Park but I did not know the the bus route had been changed due to extensive roadworks. The bus took a different route which bypassed the park. I got off the bus when I realised that the bus would not be going near the entrance that I normally use but I walked in the wrong direction for about a mile before I realised that I was going the wrong way. I eventually found the park but then my problem was how to get home.
The brothers Arthur and Benjamin Lee Guinness built up an estate of nearly 123.75 hectares from 1835 onwards in the Clontarf/Raheny area and called the estate St. Anne's after the Holy Well of the same name on the lands. Sir Arthur Edward Guinness (Lord Ardilaun) was the person most responsible for expanding and developing the estate and gardens and planted evergreen (Holm) oaks and pines along the main avenue and estate boundaries.
Lord and Lady Ardilaun had no children and the estate passed to their nephew Bishop Plunkett in the 1920s. In 1937, he decided he could no longer maintain such a large estate and negotiations with the Corporation resulted in the house and estate being sold to the Corporation for approximately £55,000 in 1939.
Bishop Plunkett retained Sybil Hill (now St. Paul's College) as a private residence with 30 acres of parkland. In December 1943, the main residence of St. Anne's "The Mansion" was gutted by a fire and the ruins demolished in 1968. In the meantime, just over 200 acres of the estate were developed for public housing with the central most attractive portion comprising about 270 acres retained as parkland.
The elaborate Tudor redbrick Ardilaun stables survive, as do most of the follies. A structural survey of these follies was carried out in 2009 with a view to conservation/restoration & the creation of a ‘Follies Trail’, complete with interpretive signage.
In the Central Nurseries, located behind the Clocktower Gardens, over 600,000 seasonal bedding plants are produced annually for the city’s parks. The wooden planters to be seen on the Liffey Boardwalk and elsewhere throughout the city, along with the tiered floral planters, are also produced & maintained within the Nursery.
The park is intensively used by the public through its 35 playing pitches, 18 hard-surfaced tennis courts, 4 Boules courts and a par-3 golf course. playground, fitted out with suitable units to compliment the parkland setting, along with a picnic area, is located close to the Red Stables.
The ‘Nanekin’ river flows through the park from the Howth Rd to the ornamental pond, then to the sea. Woodland paths add to the charm of the park. The park also has a remote-controlled model car track, located off All Saints Road, on the Raheny side of the Park.
In 1975, St. Anne's Rose Garden was opened to the public. In 1980 it was given a Civic Award by Bord Failte and the Irish Town Planning Institute At present the Rose Garden is undergoing a 5 Year Restoration Plan, begun in spring, 2015. There is an annual Rose Festival held in the Park on the 3rd weekend of July.
To celebrate Dublin’s Millennium year in 1988, the Parks Department in co-operation with the Tree Council of Ireland, initiated the Millennium Arboretum. Consisting of 16 acres located between the main avenue and St Anne’s housing estate, the arboretum is planted with over 1000 types of tees and was sponsored by 1000 participants.
Dogs are allowed off lead up to 11.00am each day & for the last hour before official Park Closing Time. At all other times, dogs must be kept on a leash. There is a dedicated ‘Dog Park’ beside the Model Car track where dogs may be let off lead at all other times.