The architectural and artistic significance of the Phoenix Park, in an international context, is due partly to the landscape setting surrounding important buildings and monuments, partly to the current high standards of maintenance of the whole, and partly to the international renown of architects and artists whose work survives.
These include Decimus Burton, Thomas Cooley, Bartholomew Cramillion, John Henry Foley (whose statues of Gough and Carlisle survive, but elsewhere), James Gandon, Francis Johnston, Edwin Lutyens (recognising the impact of the Irish National War Memorial Garden at Islandbridge on views from within the Park), Raymond McGrath, Ninian Niven, Andrew O’Connor, Edward Lovett Pearce (whose name is tentatively associated with Mountjoy Barracks), Scott Tallon Walker, Robert Smirke, Richard Turner and John Wood the elder.
In the relatively small compass of a single park, this is an extraordinary assembly. It is joined by names of importance in a more limited national context such as William D. Butler, John Ensor, Thomas Farrell, Harold Leask, Jacob Owen, J. Howard Pentland, Michael Stapleton, Robert Woodgate and others.
Much of the work associated with these artists and architects is of a conventionally monumental nature (e.g. McGrath’s shelter in the People’s Garden and O’Connor’s Abraham Lincoln). Other significant work, including the boundary wall, is more anonymous. Demesne walls are a characteristic feature of the Irish countryside but no other demesne wall in the country, of equal age and extent, has been documented and studied to the same degree. Other features of the Park landscape such as railings, gates, lamp posts, modern notices, and footpaths, while of varying historical value and with varying conservation requirements, all have a significant impact on the artistic and architectural value of the whole.
A proper understanding of the architectural and artistic significance of the Park will emerge principally from continued historical investigation of its development since its creation in the seventeenth century.
A recent description of the built environment of the Park is provided in the publication Dublin, the City within the Grand and Royal Canals and the Circular Road with the Phoenix Park. This, taken together with Landscape History and Management of the Phoenix Park from 1800-1880, provides an authoritative account of the principal buildings, monuments, and landscape features of the Park. These studies, however, do not aim to provide exhaustive inventories of artefacts in the Park. Important details such as railings, bollards, gates, and lamp standards, many of which are of significance, need to be studied historically, and individually listed and recorded.