We (the Office of Public Works) offer regular guided tours of key historic sites within and near the Phoenix Park.
Scroll down for details on guided tours of the Visitor Centre, Ashtown Castle, the Magazine Fort, Áras an Uachtaráin, Grangegorman Military Cemetery, and Arbour Hill Cemetery.
Tours of the Park are also available from private tour companies, and can be carried out on bicycle or Segway. Click here for more information.
Phoenix Park Visitor Centre
Admission is free to a lively and entertaining self-guiding exhibition on the history and the wildlife of the Phoenix Park which is on display in the Visitor Centre.
Here the visitor can enjoy a historical interpretation of the park from 3500 B.C. to the present day and can also view a twenty-minute audio-visual presentation on the Phoenix Park through the ages or on the history of Áras an Uachtaráin. A lift and stairs access the first floor of the Visitor Centre where there are further exhibits and a nature section. There is also an Exhibition Room for visiting art exhibitions where exhibitions in various media and art and craft demonstrations take place regularly.
Please note that for the months of January, February and March 2018 the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The Phoenix Café and grounds remain open 7 days a week. If you have any further enquiries contact us on 01 6770095.
Ashtown Castle is a medieval tower-house. Until 1978, this castle was hidden within the walls of a Georgian mansion (called Ashtown Lodge) that was occupied by the Under Secretary for Ireland. When the Georgian house was demolished in the late seventies, the castle was discovered inside. It has since been restored and is now open to the public. It may date from as early as the fifteenth century.
Tours of the Castle are organised from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre next door. The tour times of Ashtown Castle are 10.30am, 12noon, 1.30pm, 3.00pm and 4.30pm from April- December. Please note that the tours are subject to availability.
The Magazine Fort
The Magazine Fort is strategically sited on St Thomas Hill, off the Military Road, and close to the Islandbridge Gate. It was built in 1734 -1736 to the design of John Corneille, to store gun powder and ammunition for British Government Forces. One third of the British Army was stationed in Ireland and was regularly rotated around the Empire. The Fort was raided on two occasions: Easter Monday 1916 and the 23rd of December 1939.
Free guided tours are available. Tickets are limited and are issued from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, on a first come first served basis on the day of the tour. No group bookings are available. Phone 01-6770095 the day before arrival as there can be short notice closures.
Tours run at the following times:
From Sunday the 29th April – to the end of September 2018 Sundays at 10am and 12pm*
Visitors will have access to a number of areas within the Fort including one of the magazines and two viewing platforms. Watch the conservation work as it happens, see the archaeologist unearth the eighteenth-century drainage networks or the raised oak floors with timber dowels in the Magazine. Health and Safety induction will be conducted prior to the commencement of the tour, as conservation works are on-going within the Fort. Ground conditions are uneven so sturdy footwear is advised and suitable outdoor clothing should be worn.
* Please note the Meeting Point for the tour is at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre only. Please do not make your way directly to the Magazine Fort as access cannot be granted except by ticket and bus from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre.
Áras an Uachtaráin
Now the residence of the President of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin started as a modest brick house for the Phoenix Park Chief Ranger in 1751. It was subsequently acquired as an ‘occasional residence’ for the Lords-Lieutenant and gradually evolved to a large mansion. After Ireland gained independence, it was occupied by three Governors-General between 1922 and 1937, prior to the first president Dr Douglas Hyde taking up residence there.
Áras an Uachtaráin is open Saturdays only, all year round, except for the 24th to the 26th of December. Free admission tickets are issued at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre on the day, on a first come, first served basis. Group and/or advance booking is not possible.
Please note that public tours of Áras an Uachtaráin have been cancelled for the following Saturdays:
8th December 2018
22nd December 2018
29th December 2018
5th January 2019
Guided tours are offered on Saturdays at the following times:
Summer times (Mid-July to Mid-October): 10.15am, 11.30am, 12.45pm, 2.00pm and 3.15pm.
Winter times (Mid-October to Mid-July): 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm.
Tours take about an hour, and feature the main reception rooms in winter, and the house and garden in summer. Occasionally, due to State business it is not possible to accommodate public tours. Please contact us at the Visitor Centre for more information by telephone on 01-6770095 or by email at email@example.com
Grangegorman Military Cemetery
Grangegorman Military Cemetery, situated on Blackhorse Avenue just outside the Phoenix Park, is the largest military cemetery in Ireland. It was first opened in 1876 to serve as a graveyard for the soldiers of what was then Marlborough Barracks, now McKee Barracks, and their families. Specific zones were laid out for English, Canadian, New Zealand, and Australian service men. A Victorian Cross winner is interred here. Children from the Royal Hibernian Military School are also interred here. Also, the first British Officer casualty of the 1916 Rising. Some of the casualties of the sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster on the 10th October 1918 are also buried here. There are also several members of the ANZAC forces buried in the cemetery.
This picturesque Victorian tree lined cemetery with its well maintained lawns creates a reflective atmosphere. The graveyard is maintained by the Office of Public Works in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Guided tours of Grangegorman Military Cemetery are available on Thursdays at 11am from 5th April to November 2018. Meet inside the cemetery gates. Please telephone 01-6770095 with any further enquiries. Tours are weather permitting and subject to change.
The cemetery’s pedestrian gate is open from 10am to 4pm, seven days a week.
Arbour Hill Cemetery
Arbour Hill military cemetery is the burial place of fourteen of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. Among those buried here are Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and Major John MacBride. The leaders were executed in Kilmainham Gaol and their bodies were transported to Arbour Hill for burial. The graves are located under a low mound on a terrace of Wicklow granite in what was once the old drill or parade ground. The grave site is surrounded by a limestone wall on which the names are inscribed in Irish and English. On the left of the wall is a plaque with the names of others who were killed in 1916.
Arbour Hill Cemetery was one of the sites of national focus during the centenary commemorations of the Easter Rising of 1916. This cemetery is in the care of the Office of Public Works. The cemetery is located on Arbour Hill at the rear of the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, Dublin 7.
Arbour Hill tours will resume on the 27th of April 2018. Tours will continue every Friday at 2 pm until the end of October 2018. The meeting point for the tour is Arbour Hill cemetery gates. Please telephone 01-6770095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.