Merrion Square, located in the heart of Dublin, Ireland, has a rich history that dates back to the 18th century. The origins of the square can be traced to 1762 when plans were initially made for its development. However, it took several decades for the square to be completed, and it finally took shape in the 19th century.
The inspiration behind the creation of Merrion Square can be attributed to the Duke of Leinster, who chose to establish his residence in south Dublin. In order to accommodate his new home, the three main squares in the center of Dublin were planned and developed. These squares include St Stephen’s Green, Merrion Square, and Fitzwilliam Square.
Merrion Square, with its elegant and distinctive red-brick Georgian houses, occupies a prominent place among the three squares. The square is surrounded by these impressive townhouses on three sides, which are iconic representations of Georgian architecture. The uniformity of the buildings creates a visually pleasing ensemble, evoking a sense of elegance and symmetry.
The Park at Merrion Square
The park within Merrion Square, originally known as Archbishop Ryan Park, underwent significant changes in ownership and nomenclature over the years. In 2010, it was officially renamed Merrion Square, reflecting the square’s historical significance and its integration with the surrounding neighborhood. Prior to 2009, the park was privately owned, but in the 1960s, it was opened to the public, allowing visitors to enjoy its tranquil green space and architectural splendor.
One of the notable features of Merrion Square is the statue of Oscar Wilde, the renowned Irish playwright, poet, and novelist, who resided at No. 1 Merrion Square. The statue serves as a tribute to Wilde’s literary contributions and his association with the area. It stands as a popular attraction within the square, drawing admirers of Wilde’s work and enthusiasts of Irish literature.
In addition to the statue of Oscar Wilde, Merrion Square is adorned with other captivating sculptures. One such sculpture is the Jester’s Chair, which adds a touch of whimsy and playfulness to the park. Another notable sculpture is “Eire,” created by Jerome Connor, an American sculptor. This artwork symbolizes the spirit of Ireland and adds to the artistic and cultural ambiance of the square.
Merrion Square, with its historic significance, architectural grandeur, and artistic installations, continues to be a cherished location in Dublin. Visitors can stroll through the park, admire the Georgian houses, and immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage that the square represents.
The park at Merrion Square is designed with an English garden style, (Jardin Anglaise) very informal with large patches of green grass and curved paths.
How the neighborhood changed:
Merrion Square was built over many years, across from the Ducal Palace which is now the seat of the Irish parliament. All these improvements in this part of the city encouraged many of the wealthy to move to the south side from the north.
Georgian architecture dominates the neighborhood and many townhouses were built in this style surrounding the square as well as the residence of the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin during the 18th century.
Merrion Square almost got demolished:
The square survived plans for it to be demolished by the Irish Free State as it was a symbol of British rule, but plans were abandoned due to the war. Though in the seventies the British Embassy which was located in the square was burned down.
The park in fact was a private park and owned by the Catholic Church but residents could use the park. In 1974 it was leased to the Dublin Corporation so it could be used as a public park. Today most of the Georgian townhouses have been converted to offices, but the architecture still represents the urban look of the 18th and 19th centuries.
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