There are a handful of corners of Dublin that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a time-warp.
In the guide below, you’ll discover the history of Merrion Square along what what to keep an eye out for when you visit.
Some quick need-to-knows about Merrion Square
Although a visit to Merrion Square in Dublin is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Merrion Square and its 4.73 hectare park is situated south of the River Liffey near to many of Dublin’s famous tourist attractions such as Grafton Street, the National Museum of Ireland and St Stephen’s Green.
2. The heart of Georgian Dublin
Merrion Square is one of the most intact Georgian squares in Dublin city. It was originally laid out in 1762 and is surrounded on three sides by charming Georgian redbrick houses. The square and its surrounding area are also home to various Government buildings, Leinster House and the National Gallery of Ireland.
3. Opening hours
Opening hours for Merrion Square Park differ depending on the time of year, with longer hours during the warmer summer months: The park opens every day throughout the year at 10am, and closes at:
- 5pm in January
- 5.30pm in February
- 6.30pm in March (7.30pm when the clocks go forward)
- 8.30pm in April
- 9.30pm in May
- 10pm in June and July
- 9.30pm in August
- 8.30pm in September
- 7.30pm in October (6.30pm after the clocks go back)
- 5.30pm in November
- 5pm in December
If you visit on a Saturday or Sunday, parking shouldn’t be a problem to find nearby. However, it’s a different story mid-week when it would be better to visit either by walking or taking public transport.
The story of Merrion Square
As is often the case with cities, the original Georgian homes were built out with the original city area before Dublin subsumed it. The area was originally farmland in the 1760s, and it became fashionable with the rich after the building of Leinster House in the 1740s.
As you walk around the square, you will see metal circles buried in the ground, which was where coal used to be poured into basement of the buildings for the servants to use for the range and the fires in the rooms of the large houses.
Merrion Square has had many famous residents over the year, not least Oscar Wilde, who lived at Number 1, and who is honoured by a statue in the park.
Other notable residents include the poet W. B. Yeats and Daniel O’Connell, the fashion and interior designer Sybil Connolly, fashion designer Louise Kennedy and tycoon Dermot Desmond.
Managed by Dublin City Council, Merrion Square has gone through several major improvements in recent years to re-instate the Georgian features of the park.
It is host to a year-round cultural and events programme that aims to promote the area as the ‘go-to’ place for anyone seeking out culture.
It hosts a Christmas market in November/December and Candles by Candlelight, another lovely festive tradition. Concerts and open days are other regular features.
Things to see and do in Merrion Square
There’s a handful of things to do around the square, including the gorgeous park, that make it a great pit stop.
1. Head for a stroll around Merrion Square Park
Once upon a time Merrion Square Park was completely private, and only the wealthy residents living in the Georgian houses that surrounded it held the keys.
It had been built as a large park and ornamental garden for those residing in the square, and it actually remained private until the 1970s.
Today, the Merrion Square Park is widely regarded as one of the finest parks in Dublin City, and it’s a glorious place to stroll through on a fine morning.
2. See the Oscar Wilde Memorial Sculpture
The Oscar Wilde Memorial Sculpture is arguably the parks most notable feature, and it was created by Danny Osborne and unveiled in the late 1990s.
The statue cost £45,000 to build and it was crafted using a variety of coloured stones sourced from three different continents.
Another notable statue in the park is a Joker’s Chair, which was created and installed in memory of the brilliant Dermot Morgan – the star of the Father Ted series.
3. Admire the doors
After Merrion Square Park, the biggest draw for visitors here are the stunning Georgian Doors that are dotted around the square.
Dublin’s Georgian doors shot to fame in the 1970s. It was in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day in NYC when Bord Failte placed a poster in the window of its office on 5th Avenue.
The poster showcased Dublin’s Georgian doors and it caused many that passed it to stop and stare. Such was the popularity of the poster, Bord Failte then created a collage featuring many of the now-famous doors.
This collage became an unofficial emblem for Ireland abroad, and its doors went on to grace the cover of many a postcard.
4. The WWII air raid shelter
Yes, there’s a WWII air raid shelter in Merrion Square Park… When you’re stroll around the park, keep an eye out for a grass-covered hump.
You’ll be able to see it near the corner of the park that faces out onto Fitzwilliam Street Lower. This grassy hump covers the entrance to the World War Two air raid shelter.
Places to visit near Merrion Square
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do (that are worth doing!) a short walk from the square. Dive on in!
1. National History museum (1-minute walk)
The National History Museum is Ireland’s leading museum institution, with an emphasis on national and international archaeology, Irish history, Irish art, culture and natural history. It has three buildings in Dublin—the one nearest Merrion Square houses the archaeology and natural history museum, which features displays on prehistoric Ireland.
2. National Gallery of Ireland (3-minute walk)
The National Gallery of Ireland is a must-visit for all art lovers. Open seven days a week, the gallery’s mission is to care for, interpret, develop and showcase art. The gallery boasts a stunning collection that’ll capture the imagination young and old alike.
3. St Stephen’s Green (7-minute walk)
St Stephen’s Green maintains its original Victorian landscape features and colourful bedding plants make it delightful place to visit in the spring and summer. In addition, lunchtime concerts take place during the summer and there’s a children’s playground. Look out for the ornamental lake.
FAQs about Merrion Square Park
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What is there to see there?’ to ‘When did the park open to the public?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Merrion Square worth visiting?
Yes. This is a stunning example of Georgian Dublin and a visit here almost feels like you’ve steeped back in time.
What is there to see in Marrion Square Park?
You can admire the Georgian doors, see the Oscar Wilde Memorial Sculpture and ramble around the park.
Emma Baird is a lifestyle editor and novelist. She has worked in the communications industry for more than 25 years, and loves animals, the countryside and lingering in a great pub for the food and the craic.