The often-overlooked St. Catherine’s Park in Lucan is one of my favourite parks in Dublin.
It’s fairly handy to get to if you’re staying in/near the city and it’s home to some beautiful (and surprising) trails to head off on.
Although you’ll rarely see it in guides to the best walks in Dublin, this really is a gorgeous place for a ramble.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on parking, the different trails and some other info that’ll come in handy. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about St. Catherine’s Park in Lucan
Although a visit to St. Catherine’s Park is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
St Catherine’s Park is located across three county councils, Fingal, Kildare and South Dublin. The town of Leixlip in County Kildare sits on the western border, while Lucan in County Dublin is on the eastern side. It’s just a 30-minute drive from the park to Dublin city centre.
2. Opening hours
The opening hours of St. Catherine’s Park is from dawn until dusk, every day throughout the year. Here’s a breakdown (times may change):
- November to January: 09:00 to 17:00
- February and March: 09:00 to 18:00
- April and October: 09:00 to 19:00
- May and September: 09:00 to 20:00
- June, July and August: 09:00 to 21:00
There is quite a lot of parking available at St. Catherine’s Park, although it can get very busy on weekends so it’s best to arrive early.
4. Dog run
There’s a huge, enclosed area inside the park for dogs to run around. It’s a very popular dog-friendly place where you can let your pooch run wild without a leash inside a safe space.
About St. Catherine’s Park
St. Catherine’s Park or Lucan Demesne is a 200-acre parkland full of woodlands and beautiful grass. The River Liffey cuts through the southern section of the park.
It has become a popular recreational destination for city dwellers. The facilities inside St. Catherine’s include walking trails, a dog run, canoeing, football pitch and cricket grounds.
History of St Catherine’s Park
Incredibly, St. Catherine’s Park can trace it’s origin way back to 1219 when land owned by the Order of St. Victor founded a monastery in the area.
Many relics of the parks past can still be seen dotted around its grounds, as you’ll discover during your stroll.
Unique flora and fauna
Some of the rare flowers within the park include Hairy St. John’s Wort, Yellow Archangel, Green Figwort and Toothwort.
You’ll also find plenty of Beech and Ash trees, along with Horse Chestnut, Sycamore, Hazel, Yew and Holly. In spring, you can see beautiful flowers, especially dense carpets of Wood Anemone.
Things to see and so at St. Catherine’s Park
One of the reasons that a visit to St. Catherine’s Park is up there with our favourite things to do in Dublin is due to the sheer volume of things there is to see and do here.
1. The Woodland Walk
This walk is a 2.7 kilometre loop trail inside St Catherine’s Park. It’s a relatively easy walk that you can enjoy with the whole family, including your pet.
It’s a beautiful and peaceful walk through the woodland of the park area and along the river, with a chance to see some unique plants and wildlife. It’s suitable for all sorts of exercise, including walking, jogging, and cycling.
It’s very popular for a Sunday morning stroll or mid-week exercise session. You can even extend it further by joining onto other trails inside the park if you want.
2. St. Catherine’s Park Sli (from Leixlip)
Slí na Sláinte stands for ‘path to health’ and was developed by the Irish Heart Foundation. The sli in St Catherine’s Park is the second designated route in Leixlip. It’s a 4km loop which takes you through town and a section of the parkland.
The route is designed to start at the Rye Bank just off Main Street. It continues up past the Church of St Charles Borromeo, through the modern housing estates of Glendale and then into St Catherine’s Park. The path is marked by colourful signs, and you can either choose to walk or cycle this pleasant loop.
3. The Urban Market
One of the more unique things to do at St Catherine’s Park is to visit on a Sunday when the urban food market is on. Every weekend from May until October there is a fun market taking place between 11am and 5pm.
You’ll find plenty of delicious food, artisan produce, crafts and treats. It’s close to the overflow carpark, so there’s a large playground nearby for the kids to enjoy while you wander through the stalls. This is one of the more popular markets in Dublin for good reason.
Things to do near St. Catherine’s Park
One of the beauties of Lucan Demesne is that it’s a short spin away from many plenty of other things to see and do.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from St. Catherine’s Park in Lucan (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Phoenix Park (25-minute drive)
If you’re looking for another park space near Dublin, the Phoenix Park is just 25 minutes away from St. Catherine’s and closer to the city centre. It’s one of the largest enclosed public parks in any capital city across Europe.
2. Dublin Zoo (25-minute drive)
Inside Phoenix Park, you’ll find the Dublin Zoo. As the largest zoo in Ireland, it’s one of the best family activities in the city. Open since 1831, it’s home to over 400 animals across 70 acres of land.
3. Aras an Uachtarain (25-minute drive)
Another great place to visit inside the Phoenix Park, Aras an Uachtarain is the official residence of the President of Ireland. The impressive building was built in 1751 and is set amongst beautiful parkland and gardens.
FAQs about St. Catherine’s Park and Lucan Demense
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘How big is St Catherine’s park?’ (it’s 200 acres) to ‘Can you cycle in St Catherines park?’ (you can).
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 there much parking at St. Catherine’s Park in Lucan?
There’s a decent bit of parking here, but it fills up fast on the weekends, and the roads leading to it are narrow. So, arrive early if you can.
What is there to do at Lucan Demense?
Walks, walks and more walks. The Woodland Walk and the St. Catherine’s Park Sli (from Leixlip) are both well worth doing.
Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.