Marlay Park is a stunning park located in the south of Dublin, in the leafy suburb of Rathfarnham. Spanning an impressive 300 acres, the park offers something for everyone: scenic walks, picnic areas, children’s games, and Marlay House itself. Situated at the foothills of Dublin Mountains and just nine kilometers (5.5 miles) from Dublin city center, the park is an ideal for a morning or afternoon activity. Though, as it’s so large you can easily spend the best part of a day here.
Visitors can explore the mature woodlands, extensive informal lawns, acres of recreational land, including playing pitches, ponds, and walkways. The park is also home to many of the landscape features typical of 18th and early 19th-century parks, including a substantial boundary wall, gate lodges, ornate iron entrance gates and pillars, walled garden, bridges, ponds, and waterfalls. There’s a 3-par golf course and various sports facilities including tennis courts, football pitches and a cricket ground.
One of the highlights of Marlay Park is Marlay House, which was built in 1794 by David La Touche to replace an earlier 17th-century house called the Grange. Visitors can admire the stunning ballroom, unusual oval music room, and elegant decorative plasterwork. The house has been restored for guided tours, and the former stables have been converted into a crafts courtyard. The rear of Marlay House looks out over the demesne, which includes Laurelmere, a Victorian cottage, a lake and boathouse with a viewing platform.
The Walled Garden
The park’s formal walled garden, open all year round, is a popular visit. After entering through the head gardener’s house and tea rooms, visitors are greeted by a Regency-style ornamental garden featuring an extensive display of colorful period plants, ranging from herbaceous borders to shrub beds.
How to get there
If you are traveling from Dublin city center, you can take the 16, 116, or 161 buses from O’Connell Street, which will drop you off at the main entrance to the park. Alternatively, you can take the green Luas line to Dundrum Station, and then take a short bus journey to the park. It’s walkable from Dundrum too.
If you are traveling by car, there is plenty of free parking available in the park’s car park, located off Grange Road. From the M50 motorway, take the Ballinteer exit and follow the signs for Marlay Park.
For those who prefer cycling, there are several bike racks located at the park’s main entrance, and cycling is a great way to enjoy the park’s many trails and paths.
Events and Festivals
The park also hosts some high-profile outdoor concerts and events throughout the year, attracting both locals and visitors (and a fair few complaints from neighbours!). In 2022 there were open air concerts from Green Day, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns N Roses.
Some highlights for 2023:
- Arctic Monkeys, June 20th 2023
- Dermot Kennedy, June 23rd, 24th 2023
- Longitude 2023, July 1st & 2nd – a weekend festival of music
- Samhain Haunted Forest Walk, dates around Halloween 2023