Measuring 709 glorious hectares, Phoenix Park is one of the world’s largest city parks; you’ll find joggers, grannies pushing buggies, ladies walking poodles, gardens, lakes, a sporting oval and 300 fallow deer. There are also cricket and polo grounds, a motor-racing track and some fine 18th-century residences, including those of the Irish president and the US ambassador.
The deer were first introduced by Lord Ormond in 1662, when lands once owned by the Knights of Jerusalem were turned into a royal hunting ground. In 1745 the viceroy Lord Chesterfield threw it open to the public and it has remained that way ever since. (The name 'Phoenix' has nothing to do with the mythical bird; it is a corruption of the Irish fionn uisce, meaning 'clear water'.)
In 1882 the park played a crucial role in Irish history, when Lord Cavendish, the British chief secretary for Ireland, and his assistant were murdered outside what is now the Irish president's residence by an obscure nationalist group called the Invincibles. Lord Cavendish's home is now called Deerfield and is used as the official residence of the US ambassador.