In a Nutshell:
Once the place of a stately mansion belonging to the Guinness family, now a park for every Dubliner to enjoy. A bit out of the way, but worth going!
Where Will I Find St. Anne's Park?
On the northen shore of Dublin Bay, you'll pass it if you head from the city center to Howth
How do I get to St. Anne's Park?
Easiest by car, just head for Mount Prospect Avenue and park Nearby. If using Dublin Bus is your plan, line 130 will get you to St. Anne's Park. The DART is not an ideal option with the nearest station (Killester) being about 25 minutes walk away.
When is St. Anne's Park Open?
All times - though the parking area beside the Red Stables will be closed for the night.
A Short History of the Park:
Originally St. Anne's Park was part of a large estate owned by the Guinness family. The was sold to the Dublin Corporation in 1936 by the childless Bishop Plunkett. The corporation used less than half the area for public housing and retained the more attractive grounds, redeveloped as public parkland. An inspired move.
What can I Expect in St. Anne's Park?
Roses - well, if you come at the right time that is. The park is famed for its Rose Gardens. But even if the roses are not in bloom, visiting the park is an unexpected pleasure. Follies abound - recreated classical monuments or artificial ruins to please the eye. Even the boathouse next to the lake is based on a temple excavated in Pompeii. A house from Herculaneum is just a few minutes walk away, so are Roman tombs from Provence. You will get the feeling that you are walking in Poussin's Arcadia, with medieval ruins and ancient artifacts hidden in old woods. Unfortunately this Arcadia seems to be populated by a large number of budding artists consuming even larger quantities of beer - at least judging from the unsightly graffity everywhere and the empty cans strewn nearly everywhere in the more secluded areas. By the way - the mansion is long gone, but in 1988 the Millennium Arboretum was created, celebrating 1,000 years of Dublin by planting 1,000 different trees.
An Ideal Family Park?
Maybe - there is a charming plaround with lots of carved wood substituting for plastic, a family-friendly picnic area is nearby and the kids can roam the sheer endless grounds. But if you plan to let them loose in the "romantic" areas (the woods and ruins) you should be aware that there are some natural dangers (steep hillsides, ponds) and fit them with a GPS-locator ... it looks to be near impossible to find a lost child!
Is St. Anne's Park Secure?
Generally yes - but to be frank I would avoid the more secluded areas in the evenings and especially after dark.
Food and Drink in St. Anne's Park:
Get a snack at the Red Stables Arts & Crafts Centre if you fancy. Or bring your own - though a number of pubs line the Clontarf Road nearby and may provide beverages and food to the traveler in need.