Insider Tips

Iconic Squares of Dublin

By Visit Dublin

2nd September 2021

Every city has little pockets that become the heart of social and cultural activity and one of those places in Dublin is its squares. Scattered across the capital, these bustling hubs are popular spots for Dubliners to escape the busy city centre, for couples to stroll around admiring the architecture and a place for families to relax, play, and feed the ducks.

From medieval to modern, each of Dublin's squares offers something unique. Most notable are the five Georgian squares – built between 1750 and 1830, they show off Dublin's amazing historical architecture. Not only are the capital's squares great places to escape city life, they have also become go-to alternative venues to host pop culture, historical and artsy events.

St Stephen's Green in the Spring with tulips in bloom
St. Stephen’s Green

Opened in 1880, St. Stephen’s Green is perhaps Dublin’s most well-known Georgian square. It boasts attractions including the adjacent world-famous shopping strip Grafton Street, the Gothic revival style Unitarian Church and most famously, the vibrant St. Stephen’s Green park. The park is the perfect spot for a jaunt around its 3.5km of pathways, to take a picture with a bust of literary giant James Joyce or to just sit on the grass eating lunch on a sunny day (if you can find a spot!)

The square also played a noteworthy part in the Irish rebellion against the British. During the 1916 Easter Rising, gunfire was exchanged between the Irish Citizen Army and the British Army in the square with both sides only pausing to allow the park’s steadfast groundsman feed his beloved ducks! In 2016, the square was the site for several 1916 Easter Rising Centenary events and throughout the year, it also hosts the Peoples Art Exhibition.

Mountjoy Square Dublin in the snow

Mountjoy Square

Planned and developed in the late 18th century by Luke Gardiner, the 1st Viscount Mountjoy, Mountjoy Square was once Dublin’s most prestigious Georgian square. A long list of famous Dubliners’ have at one time or another called it home. Arthur Guinness, the founder of the beloved black stuff, died here; James Joyce featured the square twice in his novel “Ulysses” and playwright Sean O’ Casey set his famous Dublin trilogy The Shadow of Gunman, Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars in a Georgian home, thought to be based on his former tenement home in the square.

In recent history it featured in the Oscar-winning Irish film Once while global rock sensations U2 used a squat in the square as a rehearsal space before hitting it big! To learn more about the famous residents, take a Georgian Walking Tour. For art and music fans: look out for year round events by The Drawing Room, an organisation that hold classical jazz and art shows in two of the square’s beautiful Georgian houses. 

Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square

Parnell Square

Perched at the end of O’ Connell Street, Dublin’s main thoroughfare, Parnell Square is the oldest Georgian square in the city. Once called Rutland Square, it was renamed after Charles Stewart Parnell, a prominent Irish politician. During Ireland’s fight for independence it was a popular place for secret meetings and hiding spots with freedom fighters and on the eve of the 1916 Easter Rising it was an assembly point for the Irish fighters. Due to its vivid past, the square offers a lot for history and culture lovers with the Garden of Remembrance, the Hugh Lane Gallery and the Dublin Writer’s Museum all surrounding it.

Couple looking at statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square

Merrion Square

One of the best surviving Georgian Squares in Dublin, Merrion Square’s architecture has remained unchanged for 200 years. Most notably the west side of the square has the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery and Leinster House, once the largest aristocratic residence in Dublin, it is now home to the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament). 

While the architecture is striking, the past residents are equally impressive. W.B. Yeats (poet)Daniel O’ Connell (politician) and Oscar Wilde (author) all once called it home. The square’s park even has a statue of Wilde resting atop a rock at the north-west entrance. Today it is one of Dublin’s most active cultural areas with year-round events including Thursday night movie screeningsSoul Festival in May and the Laya City Spectacular Summer Festival in July

Couple taking photo on Fitzwilliam Square

Fitzwilliam Square

Only a stone's throw south of Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Square is the smallest and the last of the last of the five Dublin Georgian squares to be completed. Finished in 1825 and named after Richard FitzWilliam, an Irish Viscount, it remains the only square with a private park for residents only. It was once a social hotbed in Dublin with it being a central location for the Irish Social Season – an aristocratic social gathering. 

History buffs will love the square’s Georgian walking tour and although the park remains private, on lucky occasions it is opened to the public with the Open Air Cinema being one of its most popular events. 

A busy Temple Bar square

Temple Bar Square

The heart and soul of Dublin’s historical and cultural activities, Temple Bar Square is a spot popular with tourists. The area is a historical hodgepodge as it was once a medieval suburb that was redeveloped in the 1600’s for British families and then again in the late 20th century to become the vibrant spot in the city filled with pubs and restaurants.

Not only is Temple Bar Square popular with history and food buffs; it’s also a go-to spot for fashion and design lovers. Many of the cities more artisan and boutique stores can be found in the area. Throughout the year, the square hosts a wide range of quirky, yet fun events including the Temple Bar Trad Festival in January, the Dublin Circus Festival in April and the weekly Temple Bar Book Market

People watching a movie in Meeting House Square

Meeting House Square

Just around the corner from Temple Bar Square hidden down a small walkway is the much more contemporary Meeting House Square. It is Dublin’s newest square, only opening in 2011. It has become the film, art and photography hub of Dublin with the Irish Photography Centre, the Irish Film Institute and the National Library Photographic Archive all surrounding the square. It is also tailor-made for events as it has a retractable canopy that comes in handy during the square’s photography exhibitions, movie screenings and the delicious food market that is held every weekend. 

Meeting House Square image via Architravel

Mayor Square at Christmas

Mayor Square

Located in the IFSC, Ireland’s financial epicentre, Mayor Square is another square that shows off a more cutting-edge side to the city. Surrounded by Dublin’s modern architectural additions including the Samuel Beckett BridgeIFSC House and the Convention Centre, the area has gone through immense urban renewal. Not only is the square a great place to talk business, it’s also a busy social spot with pre-show diners frequenting the square’s restaurants and pubs before heading to a show at the nearby 3Arena.

Wind surfing in Grand Canal Dock

Grand Canal Dock

Nicknamed Silicon Docks, Grand Canal Dock is fast becoming one of the trendiest squares in Dublin. Home to tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Airbnb, it has undergone a drastic change in the last 20 years from a once derelict area to a bustling business and social centre. It’s a popular spot to grab lunch, sit in the sun drinking a cup of coffee or to take a stroll around the enclosed harbour. For theatre lovers, be sure to check out the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and for those into something more active the Docklands Summer Festival in May is a must.

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