Merrion Square is an easy walk from Trinity College through an attractive area of Dublin – they make a great pairing for a day out in the city.
When Merrion Square was first laid out in 1762 as a fashionable new development for wealthy aristocrats, the area surrounding it was little more than farmland on the southern edge of Dublin. It is some measure of the sheer growth of the Irish capital, then, that this pretty little urban oasis now occupies an expensive area in the centre of the city. Originally, the park that occupies the middle of the square was private, accessible only to the key-holding residents who surrounded it. In the 1970s, it was opened to the public, and now you are free to wander among the trees and flowerbeds at your leisure. Exploring the small park, you will come across a bust of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, as well as a statue of Oscar Wilde reclining nonchalantly on a boulder. Together with the poet and playwright W.B. Yeats, Wilde once occupied one of the fine Georgian red brick houses which occupy three sides of the square.
Bloody Sunday Avenged
These days, the once-residential properties are now largely used for commercial purposes, as well as housing the French and Slovakian embassies. The British Embassy formerly stood at No. 39, until the Bloody Sunday shootings in Northern Ireland in 1972, after which a crowd of 20,000 angry protesters descended on the site and burned it to the ground. Still, despite their change in occupancy, the architecture of the houses remains unblemished, and is well worth a visit for a glimpse of where the Irish aristocracy once spent their days.
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