While visitors to Dublin flock to marvel at the historic grounds of Dublin Castle, few take the time to wander the castle gardens, a pocket of tranquility despite their central location, and a popular picnic spot for locals in the know. Tucked behind Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library, the Dubh Linn Gardens are set on what was once the city’s namesake. Dubh Linn (now, of course, Dublin), meaning ‘Black Pool’, was named for the small harbor that once lay in this spot. In Celtic and Viking times, it was this pool – now relegated to an underground canal – that filled the moat of Dublin Castle and provided fresh drinking water to the surrounding encampments.
Today, the area is a haven of landscaped greenery, serving not only as the official castle gardens but as a makeshift helicopter-pad for visiting dignitaries. Visitors can follow the footpath as it marks out a Celtic design around the lawn, mapping out an open-air gallery of vibrant artworks and modernist sculptures. A spectacular glass snake and wooden benches inscribed with Ogham designs – an ancient Irish calligraphy –liven up the manicured lawns and elegant flower beds, but most notable is the memorial to the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games (the first ever hosted outside the United States) and a sculpture of murdered journalist Veronica Guerin – the courageous heroine depicted by Cate Blanchett in the eponymous film. At the far end of the gardens, a mosaic rainbow of ceramic tiles surrounds a small pond (perhaps in homage to the land’s previous incarnation) and tucked in another corner is the An Garda Siochána Memorial Garden, dedicated to the memory of Irish Police killed in service.